Writing Our Baby

February 2013 – I am unemployed. I thought it would have been a good idea to dedicate myself entirely to writing. In the process I destroy a relationship and two (not very important) friendships, I binge-eat and I start working on a play about a failed marriage. I give it to workshop to my Creative Writing BA team and the response is unanimous: yeah, dialogue is like, good, but like, there’s no ticking clock and we don’t really give a toss about what’s happening to these two people.

October 2014 – Final year at Birkbeck University. I have chosen to write a play for my dissertation under supervision of Colin Teevan and I have also chosen Writing for the Contemporary Stage as my option module with David Eldridge as tutor. The play I pull out from the drawer for David Eldridge is that failed marriage play I scribbled two years ago.

December 2014 – Gosh, this play is rubbish. Let me re-write Act One. Let me follow Teevan’s suggestion to add a ticking clock and an obstacle. Let me get some friends to visit them. Let’s have Act One revolve around the preparation to this dinner.

The response of the workshop is enthusiastic. They like it. They love it. David Eldridge looks at me and says: “Now, I want you to go deep. Dig deeper. Go darker.”

March 2015 – The play is due in on the 31st March and it is the 10th March and I am sitting in David Eldridge’s office. He is pale and nervous. Because I have written f’ck all. It is also worth mentioning that I haven’t made any progress on my Dissertation either, due in on the 20th April.

I tell David that I will be fine. I have two days to submit Act Two for workshop. He has recommended me to read two plays and so I have done: Dinner with Friends by Donald Margulies and Martin Crimp’s In the Republic of Happiness.

Now, I am not just cocky. I am also right. I do it, I make it. And David’s opening line for my workshop is the following: “I f’cking hate writers like you.” Because he knows I wrote Act Two in one evening. And he likes it. And everybody likes it and I like it because I have dug deeper, I have gone darker, I have explored and, most importantly, I have stopped ignoring the rules of theatre, I have stopped romanticising writing, I know why I am doing this right: because writing is just a craft and I am just building a table and, finally, I am using the screwdrivers and the wood and the nails instead of hammering everyone about inspiration and writer’s block. And I have to thank Federica Leonardis for teaching me this, five years ago.

Over three sleepless nights I finish Act Three, revise Act One and Two and I submit it. I sit on the bus on my way to work and I miss Emma and James, I want them back, even now that my head is trapped with Julia and Elaine at the Ritz Hotel (but that’s another story…).

June 2015 – My play comes back with a First Class degree and suggestion to submit it to several new writing theatres and competitions. I submit it to the Bruntwood Prize ignoring that they only read at least 60 minutes long plays, maybe because I like the idea of self-sabotage rather than plain failure.

July 2015 – My friend and playwriting pal Matthew Crowley sends me the following message on Facebook:

“Hi Eleonora, how are you? have you got a director for the play you wrote in David’s class? If not I think I know someone who would be good for it I can put you in touch with. I’m working on a show with her at the moment and I know she is looking for new writing projects x”

 

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