The Play Wot I Wrote

On Saturday we had a workshop with actors (real actors!) reading scenes from our plays. Having decided I was going to be sick with nerves I actually got up feeling fine, ate a huge breakfast and walked the dogs before heading off to Brighton for the readings - at which point all the anxiety I'd been blithely unaware of until that point came and hit me in my solar plexus and I had to get off the bus and walk, being grateful, for once, for the icy air that did a great deal to calm my nerves (and stomach).

What is it that causes such emotional trauma? I know that it's partly because I don't share anything except final drafts with anyone, and this was definitely not a final draft, it was barely even a first draft, given the compression required by the course deadlines, but there was more to it than that. I've been thinking about it, and reflecting on Simon Gray's excellent memoir The Year of the Jouncer, in which he talks about just this emotion. I conclude, on the evidence of a single sample, which any scientist will tell you is a lousy statistical approach, that it's got something to do with other people: having other people hear my work, having other people read my work. It's like dressing strangers in shoddy clothes that you know will fall apart in public.

Heigh ho. The actors were, to a man and woman, lovely. The plays were very good to magnificent (mine was first to be read and acceptable, rather than very good to magnificent, which I am happy to live with until I can revise it) and the process itself was so enlightening that my head filled with ideas and notes and thoughts and comments and I got a sort of mental indigestion, to go with the nausea, which made for a night of phantasmagoric nightmares.

I enjoyed writing my play, I loved the way the actors brought it to life, but I'm not sure I could cope with that kind of mental angst on a regular basis.

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