A writer's life is a highly vulnerable, almost naked activity. We don't have to weep about that. The writer makes his choice and is stuck with it. But it is true to say that you are open to all the winds, some of them icy indeed. You are out on your own, out on a limb. You find no shelter, no protection - unless you lie - in which case of course you have constructed your own protection and, it could be argued, become a politician.
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I think we communicate only too well, in our silence, in what is unsaid, and that what takes place is a continual evasion, desperate rearguard attempts to keep ourselves to ourselves. Communication is too alarming. To enter into someone else's life is too frightening. To disclose to others the poverty within us is too fearsome a possibility.
Do the structures of language and the structures of reality (by which I mean what actually happens) move along parallel lines? Does reality essentially remain outside language, separate, obdurate, alien, not susceptible to description? Is an accurate and vital correspondence between what is and our perception of it impossible? Or is it that we are obliged to use language only in order to obscure and distort reality -- to distort what happens -- because we fear it?
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Watching first nights, though I've seen quite a few by now, is never any better. It's a nerve-racking experience. It's not a question of whether the play goes well or badly. It's not the audience reaction, it's my reaction. I'm rather hostile toward audiences —I don't much care for large bodies of people collected together. Everyone knows that audiences vary enormously; it's a mistake to care too much about them. The thing one should be concerned with is whether the performance has expressed what one set out to express in writing the play. It sometimes does.
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I suggest that US foreign policy can still be defined as "kiss my ass or I'll kick your head in." But of course it doesn't put it like that. It talks of "low intensity conflict..." What all this adds up to is a disease at the very centre of language, so that language becomes a permanent masquerade, a tapestry of lies.
There never is any such thing as one truth to be found in dramatic art, there are many. These truths challenge each other, recoil from each other, reflect each other, ignore each other, tease each other, are blind to each other. Sometimes you feel you have the truth of a moment in your hand, then it slips through your fingers and is lost.
As a writer you're holding a dog. You let the dog run about. But you finally can pull him back. Finally, I'm in control. But the great excitement is to see what happens if you let the whole thing go. And the dog or the character really runs about, bites everyone in sight, jumps up trees, falls into lakes, gets wet, and you let that happen. That's the excitement of writing plays-to allow the thing to be free but still hold the final leash.
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I'll tell you what I really think about politicians. The other night I watched some politicians on television talking about Vietnam. I wanted very much to burst through the screen with a flame thrower and burn their eyes out and their balls off and then inquire from them how they would assess the action from a political point of view.
The theater's much the most difficult kind of writing for me, the most naked kind, you're so entirely restricted.... I find myself stuck with these characters who are either sitting or standing, and they've either got to walk out of a door, or come in through a door, and that's about all they can do.
I left school at sixteen - I was fed up and restless. The only thing that interested me at school was English language and literature, but I didn't have Latin, and so couldn't go on to university. So I went to a few drama schools, not studying seriously; I was mostly in love at the time and tied up with that.
Political theatre presents an entirely different set of problems. Sermonising has to be avoided at all cost. Objectivity is essential. The characters must be allowed to breathe their own air. The author cannot confine and constrict them to satisfy his own taste or disposition or prejudice.
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