Day 6 on the New Writing Course

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Benazir Bhutto, her personal shopper, beautician, the cook’s mother and many other dodgy characters including a closet anorexic filled Graeae’s sun-filled studio today at Tamasha on day six.

After brief discussion about plays that subvert the three-act play structure we got into reading our new scenes and monologues and I felt well rested enough and confident that I could face the rest of the day without sustaining too much brain frazzling. I should know better but never seem to learn not to pre-empt anything because after the hour-long lunch break I spent soaking up vitamin D in the museum grounds and worming my way into the brains of an anorexic we all returned and Philip exposed his onion.  Don’t even!

The onion surrounding the death of Pakistan’s first lady Benazir Bhutto, people whose lives were affected and how? We heard confessions and accusations of corruption in the fashion world, religious persecution and of lives inexorably changed by her death. Yours truly and I suspect many others in this dynamic group of women were sufficiently stunned at learning yet another way to tackle the art and craft of playwriting. But it didn’t stop there! Suddenly we were thrown into chaotic liaisons that had to end in conflict between unsuspecting street sweepers, cosmetologists, Oxford alumni and Toyota damage control experts. Phew! And just when the word sadist was on the edge of some tongues, our weary grey cells were given a break from crafting character/conflict and story and Sudha began a discussion about writing stories within our heritage that resounded within the group. After lengthy dialogue we were left asking the question: How far am I willing to sacrifice my individual voice and cultural heritage to be accepted and gain prominence in mainstream theatre?

Visibly worn, I left with many questions still tingling and popping up top but I’m not stressed as it’s nothing a good night’s rest won’t solve… and then we start all over again tomorrow!

Radha Menon – writer

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