I think the best stage of a play is the research stage. Well, maybe not the best stage; finishing a play and seeing it published is pretty great. But it’s certainly the most enjoyable. In this stage all I have is a notebook and a pen and all I do is write notes. Nothing is wrong, nothing is undoable, everything is possible.
I’m not a writer who can create on the computer. I always start with paper and pen. There’s something magical (and I’m not someone who’s keen on magical things) about the way words flow from the mind, down the arm, through the fingers, out the pen and on to the page. And I adore being able to just let the thoughts come out, almost in a stream-of-consciousness style. It’s rather airy-fairy sounding but there you go.
I have a science play that’s in the research stage right now. I spent yesterday afternoon surfing the web and taking notes and writing snippets of dialogue. I’m a science moron so I’m starting with a blank slate. The play is going to be about the brain and how it works, particularly when it’s damaged. I’m excited, if not a bit daunted, about how to theatricalize it all.
By the end of the day, I had a main character, plus two side characters. One potentially exciting and vivid moment. I had a somewhat beginner’s grip on the brain. A couple of pages of dialogue. No story yet. Lots of work to do.