Continuing my consumption of interviews with theatre makers and other artist (reading and listening to) I’ve started on Anne Bogart’s collection of 24 interviews called “Conversations with Anne” (2012). Obviously reading conversations with people who’ve worked in theatre/performing arts for longer than I’ve been alive is a lot of things. It’s humbling. It’s challenging. It’s inspiring. It’s frustrating. It’s fragmenting. It’s fun.
I’m going to do something careless and just pick up on a single sentence in a long conversation between André Gregory and Anne Bogart. Talking about working on a specific scene he says that the team felt that “It’s good, but it’s not right.” Now this is a thought I’ve been struggling with lately, both as an audience member and as a writer.
For the past year I’ve often felt that something (a scene, a line, a character, an act, etc) I’ve written works, does what it’s supposed to, is good even (even writing that makes me feel bad about feeling good about something I’ve written – ah the lovely law of Jante at work as always). But. I’ve also felt more and more insecure about whether what I’ve written is right (for that particular scene, play, line, character, etc) or not. In the best of worlds I’d achieve both, writing something that is both right and good. That’s the best of worlds, though, and so far I haven’t found the coordinates for that place.
Sometimes it’s hard though, when you’ve managed to reach something good, to be honest with yourself and admit that it isn’t right, that you have to discard it and keep working, keep looking, keep trying for something else. Especially when you don’t know what that “something else” is, until you reach it. And maybe you won’t even recognise it when you do reach it. Getting to what’s right might be a question of combining craft and gut instinct, and knowing when to let which lead, and when to leave well alone. Like with everything else, the only way to learn is to keep doing the work.