About How Plays Work

Monday 6th July 2009

David Edgar
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It’s been a good time to read books, preferably under a tree in a sunny park. And with Pirate Dog at my feet. My current fav is playwright David Edgar’s How Plays Work (just published by Nick Hern). As well as being an immensely confident and knowledgeable account of drama from Aeschylus to Roy Williams, it is also a seductive advocacy of the necessity of story-telling and the importance of genre. Somewhere near the end, Edgar remarks that the playwright “takes the most agonising, painful, inspiring and deadly moments of human life and turns them into drama”. Theatre “is a zone in which we can experiment with our dreams and dreads, our ambitions and our impulses — murderous as well as virtuous — in conditions of safety.” And I also agree with his further point that it’s a good moment to repeat this: there are plenty of people out there who simply don’t understand what fiction is. Otherwise, why would they be so intent on censoring it?

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