I don’t have my own blog (I know, I know) so please allow me to borrow yours slightly. It’s a bit dispiriting to read Jimmy McGovern’s comment and the laughter it drew from the BFI. Why? Because as you know I write for theatre, radio and film.I'm not so shy as Ali, so here's a link to that Scotsman review.
My radio plays have been on Radio 4 and Radio Scotland, I got my first professional screenwriting commission last year for a feature and 2 weeks ago my latest stage play was up on its feet in the Leith Festival.
I’ll resist putting the link here to Joyce McMillan’s Scotsman review of that play but basically – apart from the staging which she didn’t like – I can tell you what got to her in a big way. Story, story, story.
And that is my point. I don’t think it’s about the medium, it’s about storytelling. That’s what lies under all the different ways we can put our thoughts and characters and visuals and dialogue down on paper. Telling a good story. McKee certainly picked a good title for his book.
I don’t wear a different hat when I’m writing for each of those media but I certainly know the differences and write accordingly. I met Alice Nutter – writes for Casualty and The Street – a few years ago when we were both on the same Emerging Playwrights programme at the Traverse Theatre. So I’m a bit thrown by Jimmy McGovern's blanket dismissal of playwrights.
I do agree with your point about the new hot playwright having a large support network around them but that only really applies to those lucky enough to be working with the bigger producing theatres. If, like me, you’re doing it with zero funding, the script that goes up on stage is 99 per cent yours, so there’s even less of a hiding place.
Actually, I must be quite good at this if I can get commissioned and paid in 3 different media. You don’t happen to know any of these people who scour the land looking for playwrights by any chance? I’d love to say hello…
Friday, June 25, 2010
A screenwriting playwright responds!
Alistair Rutherford was a classmate when I did the screenwriting MA at what's now the Edinburgh Skillset Screen and Media Academy. Since graduating he's been commissioned as a radio dramatist, screenwriter on a feature and as a playwright. Having commented on the post below, he's letting me recycle his thoughts as a guest post: