I am a playwright. Somehow that sentence feels comfortable. I have been writing plays for over thirty years now. I have even taught Playwrighting — mostly to college students who really wanted to make it as screenwriters. When Shakespeare says “The play’s the thing!” I know how his heart must have raced. Mine does whenever I go to the theatre and the lights dim.
What should a play be? Hard to define. Talky? Action driven? Meditative? A circus with a narrative? We know what it should not be — something that puts us to sleep. It should not leave us satisfied, but the wheels of thought should turn hours or days after we have left the theatre.
I suppose of that premise PHANTOM OF THE OPERA was a better play than I thought — I hated it so thoroughly it kept me ranting for months about how mediocrity is rewarded in this society.
I always told my students (and usually remind myself) to write the play in your head, not what others tell you to write. At talk backs after plays everyone is quick to inform the playwright of a better play that they could write, rather than addressing what the playwright wishes to convey. It may not be a play your mother could love — but it should be a play YOU can love. That was Playwrighting 101. To make it in the world it must embrace more people than it agitates. But let it agitate some of them! Politeness is not known for changing the world.