SkyArts interview with Chris Campbell, Literary Manager



the royal court always describes itself as a writer's theater and always has from the start George davines famous formulation and we are the Department of the theatre that works most closely with writers the ones that we're producing the ones we have produced in the past and the ones who we hope to produce in the future there's a picture of George Devine up there above my desk and it's direct succession really and it feels like advance they I think everybody here believes in the playwright as the primary creative artist in theatre that's quite widespread in British theatre culture anyway but I think this is the place where that is most honoured and felt by everybody everybody who works in this organization from bar staff all the way down to me thinks about playwrights often and has a view on playwrights what we always say is that we like work which breaks new ground through matically or formally and that is vague enough to mean more or less we like what we like that's what it means and we have all kinds of things which you might think are rules but aren't really for example we quite often say we rarely produce work unless it has a contemporary setting and that's true but we make exceptions from time to time and I'm sure we will again in the future I suppose the vaguest and yet most accurate thing I could say about it is we are looking for plays that have something to say about how we live now one of the great strengths of British theatre is that is still connected to the it's still connected to public life in this country partly because of the accident that our founding artist happens to be a playwright playwriting has a certain special place in British culture and we still think it's a good way to talk about things talk about issues between us talk about various communities various people various strands of thought in in society we think it's a public activity worth doing every year we get just over 3,000 unsolicited plays that is plays that arrived in the post in addition to the place we get from writers whom we know the plays that we've asked for the place that agents who we know and have a relationship with send us so the it's a huge volume of work that we are dealing with the basic pattern of the writers groups is that over the course of three months they will meet once a week that's the essential shape of the group again as with everything anybody that all code tells you subject to change variation whatever we feel like doing one day or whatever seems like a better idea but that's the basic pattern of the groups and what happens during the course of that they will be writing a play after the end of the group they will have a certain period of time at the end of which we expect to get that play and will read it and we'll give them feedback and we'll do whatever we do with the play but during the group maybe they will read each other bits of the play they're working on maybe they will have a particular problem they'd like to discuss with the group about the play that they're working on maybe someone else will come in and talk about current trends maybe I'll go in and do an exercise with them you know Dominic Cooke will come in and perhaps talk to them about what's in his mind where he sees things going at the moment the kinds of plays that he's finding exciting at the moment so it is it really is like a superior kind of writers group they are not primarily educational and not primarily social nor pedagogic nor outreach II they are primarily ways of us getting more plays that we can produce and that that that the fact that everyone involved in the writers groups knows that changes the atmosphere completely we are absolutely not here to teach you how to write a play what we want to do is get you to a stage where you write a play that we want to produce and that's it's a crucially different relationship with the material you

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