I have been writing community plays for the past twenty years now, over thirty five in all, most for my company Excavate which is based in Nottingham. As a teenager from East Devon I was involved in three of the first community plays created by Ann Jellicoe and the Colway Theatre Trust. I write for mainstream theatres, for touring theatres and for radio, but it is community theatre that I am most interested in. Right now I am carrying out doctoral research into what has happened to the community play. Does this form of theatre still happen? Who is doing it? How are they doing it? What has been learnt from forty five years of making community plays? But most of all, as a writer, I am interested in how you write for community theatre because I think that there is a dearth of investigation into this art. And, of course, it is not so easy to study because the scripts of most community plays are simply not that accessible. But I believe that it is something that needs to be investigated. And that writing for a specific audience in a specific location for a play in which ‘the community’ is an implicit character in some way raises different questions to those which I am faced with when I sit down to write for alternative forms of theatre. I also believe that when community theatre is written well it may have things to say about writing for these other forms of theatre.
This blog will be a mixture of personal reflection and quotation from those I am reading as I carry out my research. I hope to engage with a number of writers who work in this field, both as playwrights and academics. I also hope to speak with those who have been involved in writing community theatre from its earliest days right through to those who are making community theatre now.
This is the beginning of what will be a four year project and I welcome any thoughts or comments or suggestions or provocations to what I write.