What is the role of the writer in 21st Century Theatre

David Coggins, 4 October 2012

The rise of devising companies and their methods of work prompted this question. Do we need writers and if so what should they be doing in the creation of work? Slavishly protective, generously collaborative? Should they work on their own or with company? What should they be doing to get their work on? Who should they be talking to? What other roles should they be doing to get their work seen and appreciated and developed?

So from these provocations came a range of responses that expanded the debate: These are (in no order particularly and apologies for any inaccuracies in reporting!!): 1. A process of negotiation - writers should be collaborative if the work requires it, be independent and specific if the work requires it.

2. Working collaboratively needs to mean that directors and writers share the same passion (likened to a relationship - when it works it's sympathetic symbiosis, when not isn't it a little bit “I love you. You're perfect. Now CHANGE!!?
3. A writer is an editor of the creative process between actors and directors

4. Writers need to constantly subtly adjust their role to be present in the process but retain ownership???
5. Shouldn't we establish an etiquette to clearly define roles at the beginning of the process so that the writer's intentions and aims are adhered to...but where does that leave the contributions of others??

6. ”You want the best piece of work possible and sometimes the piece you end up with isn't the piece you brought to the rehearsal room“
7. If you're not careful being a writer working with directors and actors could be like

”raising a child, letting it be babysat only to come home to find it smoking!"
8. The role of the writer in 21st century theatre is to be a producer.
9. The rise of the producer has affected the ability to get work done - it used to be artists producing work now there are more people working to produce less work
10. Writers shouldn't be put into boxes
11. To be proactive, push your work - self produce
12. If you're good enough, you'll make it - won't you??
13. We need a Northern Travelex !! - Sponsors for future new work
14. The level of risk for supporters of new writers (venues and producers) runs the risk of creating a genre of low risk, low cost, low cast work
15. ....therefore the role of the writer in the 21st Century is to forget about the theatre houses!
16. You can have theatre without a writer, You can have theatre without a theatre producer
17. Theatre is a fantastic medium for writers; a big stage with numerous opportunities - writers should find their niche
18. Theatre allows writers and work to evolve and change and grow
19. Writers need to be given room to breathe and grow and there need to be more opportunities for this to happen
20. Some new writing initiatives are well intentioned but are ineffectual.
In Attendance:
Dave Coggins
Ben Brown
Harriet Webb
Scott Dickinson
Sarah Wallis

Alex Chisholm


opportunities, Writers and Directors, New Writing Initiatives, Support networks, Writers in Rehearsal, Collaboration in writing, Ownership of work, Writers, New forms of theatre, writers, Writers and producers, Opportunities