There is a very interesting project happening in the window of the Drama Bookshop in New York until September 1st. Playwrights writing. In the window. Of the store. Writing in Plain Sight. They sit at laptops and whatever they’re working on is shown on a screen. Created by Micheline Auger, the idea is to put in public a pretty private process.
I love it and if I lived in New York I think I definitely would have signed up. People ask me all the time – so are you writing something new? And it’s as if the writing stopped at some point. Why wouldn’t I be writing something new? Do Dentists stop filling teeth? Do Accountants stop adding up numbers? But the question I really dread is “So what’s it about?” I find it hard to explain the writing process to someone who doesn’t completely understand the writing process. And this is really my fault. They’re not trying to be rude, they’re being interested.I really should come up with an answer that sounds like normal ordinary work. But my perception is (rightly or wrongly) is that they really don’t want to know, and they’re going to lose interest half way through my explanation.
So more often than not, I just shut the question down. “Are you writing something new?” Yep. ‘What’s it about?” Oh, it’s new. Nothing really yet. Or, oh, it’s about X. And whatever X is, I say the least amount of words possible.
But the truth of the matter is, when I start a new play it’s always about something. There’s always something I’m specifically working on. Something I’m striving for. There’s something I’m really excited about. Maybe I’m afraid that if I share that excitement, it won’t be returned and my energy would have been wasted. I don’t know. And then don’t even get me started on the notion of re-writes and the purpose of that. I’ve said before, I write so much better than I talk. Talking just saps the life out of me sometimes. Again, my fault and something I should work on.
So the idea of Writing in Plain Sight. Where I wouldn’t have to talk, I could just do my thing and someone could SEE what I do instead of me talking about what I do…..I like that.
You can read about the experience over at Theatrespeak and here’s a sample of what’s going on in the window…