What is New Writing? Authors of New Writing face contemporary and modern themes, trying to throw down the old forms of theatre. In 1956, the play Look Back in Anger premiered. It was written by John Osborne and was one of the expressions of the movement called “angry young men”. The play is gritty, and is about the role of working class, gender roles and the fall of traditional values. The contrast with the high society and dressing gowns that charcterised the plays of the past. Terence Rattigan’s sad plays, for example, were about the secrets of the upper classes. Look Back in Anger premiered at the Royal Court Theatre. The play was written in a new style, engaged and contemporary.
The vision of the playwight, their voice and sense is the heart of British New Writing. The actors, lighting and design only make manifest the writer, while in Germany the text is not as important as in British theatre. After WWII, there was an important moment when it was considered important for the nation to provide funds to make art and to make it affordable to common people. It was quite easy for everyone to have publicly funded works, and original voices of the lower classes were born. Theatre did not produce only revivals or Shakespeare – the new writing began. There were places devoted only to new plays.
After the part about new writing, Professor Musgrave gave us an insight about how to send our plays to different theatres. Today, theatres look for plays that express with bite and vibrancy the British culture now, as the Bush Theatre says. Royal Court Theatre looks for plays that deal with the problems of the moment. Finborough Theatre is looking for plays that represent unique challenges to ideological assumptions about community. These theatres in general look for contemporary styles, contemporary issues and contemporary forms. But there are other resources for the playright – maybe you can send your script to touring companies and festivals, prizes and competitions. BBC has a “writers’ angle” where you can find these opportunities. Sometimes, plays are commissioned and you have to write a new play for a strict deadline. Professor Musgrave told us, anyway, to be well ready for the typical refusal: “It’s good, but I’m afraid it’s not for us”.