Event Review: Laura Wade How to Write…..Plays

Written by: Caroline Hamilton 

Laura Wade opened up the world of play writing in the pre-recorded workshop organised by Sheffield Hallam University for this year’s festival.

The Sheffield educated, multi-award winning playwright and screenwriter, a prestigious Olivier Award and Honorary Doctorate, gave an interesting and inspiring insight into what appears to be the monolithic task of How To Write… Plays.

Showing off her Crucible wine coaster at the beginning of the conversation with Dr Henry Bell, Senior Lecturer in Performance Studies at Hallam (albeit it was only tea – or possibly coffee – she supped throughout her workshop) Laura helped to demystify the art of writing for the stage, offering constructive advice and encouragement along the way.

Lifting the curtain on the early stages of her career (Henry’s choice of phrase, there), Wade discussed the opportunity to join the Royal Court’s young writers programme as a key stepping stone in her career, enabling her to build connections, contacts and networks, which collectively she part attributes to making it big (my words, not hers).

She gave emphasis too to an overarching vision; the audience’s journey; props (don’t underestimate these she tells us…); and language – examining how she has used each in various plays and adaptions, and admitting that she had Katherine Parkinson in mind when writing Home, I’m darling.

Studying others is another key ingredient, she cited. Reading. Reading lots. And re reading, was further advice.

And listening. Listening at every opportunity to conversations on the bus, chats at the coffee machine, banter in the coffee shops: for word geeks, which I think she confessed to being, that was a fun, exciting yet all so important element of writing dialogue… aka the ability to ‘tune in’.

Like boyfriends she concluded, be aware that each play can be a reaction to the last, and they all behave in different ways. Indeed….

A talent for grabbing the audience from the get go and then keeping hold of them, the same can be said for the perspective she gave on writing drama and comedy with her Off The Shelf Workshop.

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