Talking to Four (Female) Irish Playwrights

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09/18/2009 1:00 PM |

What do you love the most about being a playwright?
Geraldine: I always surprise myself with coming up with anything. It’s such fun and I resist it so much, I pace the whole house rather than start, so I wonder why I’m so resistant to starting. Moving an audience, laughing or crying, is wonderful.

Lucy: For me I think the best thing about being a playwright is the same as being a theatergoer, and it’s that moment just before the lights go down, and people somehow hush, and there’s just this expectancy.

This is why theater is perhaps the hardest medium, I’m a novelist and I write short stories, and in theater it’s quite brutal because it either works or it doesn’t. When it works you can feel people stop breathing. And when people laugh and all the separate people in the audience become one together and it’s alive… I always feel that after I’ve finished a play, I’m dying to get back to writing a novel because I want the solitude, and knowing that no one is allowed to enter my world unless I let them. Conversely if I’ve been writing a novel for too long I’m dying to have input of other people and someone making it alive.

Rosalind: Processing ideas over time and then finding a place for them. I’ve got lots of different ideas floating on the top of my head and then something happens and a few of them fall into place and they come together. It’s funny you ask me that, because just today I was walking through New York, and on one of the curbstones there was an Emily Dickinson poem, which I knew anyway,
“a word is dead
when it is said
some say
I say it just
begins to live
that day”
…in no other form do you immediately get from the actor, director, audiences watching, that excitement. It also makes it scarier. The stakes are higher as a playwright because you’re right there.

Geraldine: We’ve been very fortunate, this can happen and be a big mess, with people not knowing who’s doing what … George is just extraordinary. He’s put this entire thing, not just us, but this whole festival together. I feel very confident, whatever happens.

Lucy: Going back to the earlier, thorny question, it’s going to be people like George that mean in a decade or two that the issue of women having long-running plays on Broadway just won’t be a question anymore, because I think it starts on the level of someone like George doing something like this and doing it well.