24 January 2006

Of Minis and Monsters

My own new play, Missing Persons: Four Tragedies and Roy Keane, has a character list of 16, including a bull, two horses and a dog - and yet, it's a one-man show. Does this make me the first monsterist splitter? Shall I be joining the miniaturists? (I kid you not - a group of such has apparently emerged.) No, it is not a case of 21 characters good, one character bad. Let the story and subject find the right form.

So Colin Teevan, Monsterist playwright, in the paper today. In his piece he twice uses the phrase 'broad church', first when talking of the fruitful compromises between writer and director in post-war British theatre, then later he says, "Monsterism is a broad church. We happily collaborate with directors on pieces where they are the driving force. We do not propose...that playwrights write nothing but big plays".

All good and reasonable. If a writer has a feeling they want to take on a large canvas, a multiversal epic that simply does require a production on a larger scale, the resources should be available. If the piece warrants it, and the writer's talent is evident. I will defend the Monsterists to the hilt on that one. And though I run a thing called the Miniaturists, whose name is, yes, a bit of a nod their way, with tongue in cheek, I've just finished the second draft of a play that needs a dozen actors and is ambitious in scale and subject matter, and I'm in the habit of calling it a monster (with a small m!).

But let the story and subject find the right form. When a writer has a perfectly formed idea for a miniature, let him or her write it, and not be frustrated for years at the machinery of production, the dramaturgy, the commissioning rounds, the workshops, the readings, the Arts Council meetings, the coffees with artistic directors. A miniature is so called, not because of its count in minutes, but rather for its concision, its focus, the brevity of its candle that 'gives a lovely light'. It's about scale, not size, if you see what I mean. So back to our writer. If they are so minded, they can write their miniature in a few days, find some like-minded people, and put it on. Immediately.
Or send it to me for inclusion in a Miniaturists night, and we'll do it. So how about it Colin? And Richard, and Roy, and Sarah, and Shelley...

4 comments:

Rod said...

The trouble with 'ists' is they tend to coagulate into 'isms' and then they have to deny that they are what they have become defined as. The sound of hairs splitting is deafening.

sbs said...

To be replaced by the deafening roar of a thousand keyboards being bashed, I would hope...
(where you bin, R?)

Rod said...

I bin doin a play innit - see blog

Ova Girl said...

Nicely said sbs...