Curious Incident Scribe Simon Stephens on Why Awards Don’t Matter


first_img Show Closed This production ended its run on Sept. 4, 2016 Newly minted Tony winner Simon Stephens is a prolific playwright with two shows on the New York stage at the moment: Best Play winner The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and off-Broadway’s Heisenberg. His other works include the gritty Punk Rock, Port, Wastwater, Harper Regan, Pornography, One Minute, Carmen Disruption, the Olivier-winning On the Shore of the Wide World and many, many more. Stephens recently invited to his downtown hotel room (with an awesome view) to talk process, preparation and Chekhov.What time of day do you write?I tend to do a normal working day that’s built around the family. I take my kids to school then go up to my office, where I work from 10 to five. I think you only really need to do about four hours a day of work as a playwright. Our work is not defined by a word count. It’s not like being a novelist where you need to write 10,000 words a day or whatever.Describe your muse.My muse is my wife and my children. Not necessarily because my wife is so beautiful that I just gaze toward her. I mean I write plays about people being shot in the head. It’s because this is my job. They ground me. She reminds me to have fun and not get jumpy. She takes the piss out of me. The kids, too. I always think the subject of theater is what it is to be human. There’s no better way to understand human beings than to make one and watch it grow. I’ve been a much better writer since my children were born. What’s the first thing you do when you sit down to write?Read the entire Internet.How long do you procrastinate before you get down to work?Six hours. And then there will be like two hours left before I have to go pick the kids up, and I’ll be like, “F*ck! I haven’t written anything!” Then I’ll write something really good because I’ve got no time left. Although that’s presented as a joke, there’s something true in it.What’s something to keep in mind when adapting a work?Drama concerns itself only with the things people do to one another. Novelists often concern themselves with the things people remember, think, observe or whatever. You have to release universes of thought and feeling through action. That’s the job of a dramatist. That’s it. Subsequently, our work is not linguistic; it’s behavioral. I remember talking to [Curious Incident novelist] Mark Haddon about the difference between prose and drama. He said, “The thing about Curious Incident is that the funniest line in the play with the loudest reaction every performance comes from the line, “OK.” It’s true. Mark said, “There is no way that the word ‘OK’ would ever be the funniest line in a novel.” It just doesn’t work like that.What play changed your life?Do you get your best work done as the day is winding down?I think the energy of a ticking clock can be really useful. I do a lot of exercises to timers. It’s hard to say what’s good writing when you’re working on a play: Sometimes it’s writing good dialogue, but sometimes it’s making good structural decisions like deciding how many scenes you’re going to put in the play. Those can be the real epiphany moments. With Curious Incident, the decision to use Siobhan as the narrator—I swear I had that idea while walking down the street. It was a classic writer’s epiphany. But then epiphanies come as a product of work; they don’t come from the ether. You do a shitload of work and then they come.What essential items do you like to have on hand when you’re writing?I don’t really have anything but my computer. I can write anywhere and in any circumstance. It kind of staggers my wife.How much planning do you do for a piece?I’m a thorough planner. I don’t write from nothing onto the page. There are five stages of the writing process for me. There’s a lengthy period of months and months of mulling. I move from what Peter Brook describes as “a formless hunch” to starting work on a play. I’ve got to go very slowly with it. The slowness is key. Then I will start researching—reading around the subject I’m writing about. I might look at art, listen to music, watch movies or interview people—to just start filling up the sponge. From the research comes a lot of note-taking: I’ll do exercises to start generating material, and that will take a month or so. Then I’ll start to land on the characters in the play—what they want, what’s stopping them from getting what they want. After that, I’ll figure out how many scenes the play has and how many characters are in each scene. Then the process of writing is like painting by numbers. I really love that because it allows me to work very quickly. The tension between slowness and speed is really useful.How do you celebrate when you finish a draft?I always embark on every play with the absolute certainty that I won’t write it. I think I’ve already written every play I’m ever going to write, and doing another one is a pathetic act of self-flagellation. That’s how I start, so if I manage to get to the end of it, there’s always a moment of [big sigh of relief]. I tidy the office. That’s my celebration. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time View Commentscenter_img Related Shows What’s the nitty gritty hard work of being a playwright that no one ever told you?There are lots of hard things about being a playwright, but in Britain there are a lot of playwrights and a lot of support and mentoring. I think it goes back to that thing that it’s not linguistic. It’s really about action. If anything can ruin a play, it’s words.What writers inspire you?What should aspiring writers know, do or see?They should know that the career is utterly irrelevant. What matters is the work. The notion of [the Tony Awards] blows my f*cking mind, and it’s flattering, but it’s dangerous because it’s a distraction. Curious Incident works as a piece of theater—that’s the thing to cherish. The career is really seductive when you’re starting out, but it doesn’t f*cking matter. The process of writing today is exactly the same as it was when I was working as a barman and thousands of pounds in debt with my parents telling me I was never going to make it as a writer. The stuff surrounding the writing is different, but the writing is the same. That’s important for young writers to know. It’s not like there’s a magic door that you go through and then you’re a successful playwright. You’ve got to do the work. That’s what you need to know. What they should do is just f*cking write. Know that you’ll be shit, and the first few plays will be shit. But keep writing—maybe play number 10 will be good. Also, see anything by Anton Chekhov.What’s your favorite line in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time?last_img read more

House to tackle bills on ABS-CBN franchise renewal on March 10


first_imgMANILA – The House of Representatives willhold its first hearing on bills seeking a new franchise for broadcastgiant ABS-CBN. decided to take up pending bills on the renewal of franchise of the televisionnetwork on March 10. According to Cayetano, this is to makeit clear to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) that they areacting on ABS-CBN’s franchise and that it should grant it provisional authorityto operate pending the franchise renewal’s approval. “Paramatapos na ito, kung hindi mahabolduring our regular schedule na matataposna by March 11, ang last session,then if possible na magkaroon nghearing during the break,” Zarate said. The House of Representatives. ABS-CBN NEWS Cayetano also noted that thehearing aims to set ground rules so the proceedings do not end up a “bullsession” or a “sipsipan forum.”center_img Meanwhile, Bayan Muna party-listRepresentative Carlos Zarate suggested that hearings on the network’s franchiserenewal should go on even during the congressional break. House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetanosaid Wednesday the House committee on legislative franchise  “Para by May 4, if we can have adecision to renew or not to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN, then it’s betterfor all the parties,” he added. Congress is set to go on break beginningMarch 13. ABS-CBN’s legislative existing franchise will expire on May 4, thesame day Congress returns from its seven-week break./PNlast_img read more

Homicide suspect falls


first_imgILOILO City – Charged with homicide, a 50-year-old man was arrested in Barangay Intampilan, Panit-an, Capiz. He was detained in the custodial facility of the Panit-an municipal police station. Jose Rex Dasig, a resident of the village, was caught on the strength of an arrest warrant around 12:10 p.m. on Saturday, a police report showed.center_img The court recommended a P120,000 bail bind for the suspect’s temporary liberty./PNlast_img

Crisis-hit Chelsea back in for £40m Stones, Swansea to go for Bielsa? Paper review


first_imgHere’s the top transfer-related stories in Tuesday’s newspapers…Chelsea will relaunch their £40million bid to sign Everton defender John Stones as soon as the transfer window opens in January as manager Jose Mourinho bids to kick-start his side’s Premier League title defence. (Daily Express)Chelsea have been warned Alex Teixeira could cost them at least £7million more if they fail to strike a January deal with Shakhtar Donetsk. Brazilian Teixeira, 25, has revealed Chelsea are in talks with his Ukrainian club about signing him. But Shakhtar boss Mircea Lucescu says his value will rocket to €50m at the end of the season. (Daily Mirror)Juventus are not giving up on Oscar at Chelsea. The Italian champions remain keen to add further creativity behind their strikers and see Brazilian Oscar as ideal for the role. They are prepared to sign Juan Cuadrado on a permanent deal also but talks are unlikely to kick on until the summer when budgets are clearer. (Daily Mail)Marcelo Bielsa is the latest contender to enter the frame for the Swansea job as chairman Huw Jenkins begins to narrow down the list of contenders to succeed Garry Monk. Former Argentina and Chile boss Bielsa has become the odds-on favourite to take over at the Liberty Stadium, with his price having been cut from 40-1 over the course of the weekend. (Daily Mirror)Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is reluctant to make ANY signings in the January window – despite being offered funds to bring in new players by his American owners. (Daily Mirror)Simon Mignolet is close to signing a new contract at Liverpool, with negotiations over extending his Anfield career set to be concluded before the end of the month. (Guardian)West Brom will consider handing Kerim Frei a Premier League return if they miss out on QPR’s Matt ­Phillips. Baggies boss Tony Pulis is keen to revive a £7million deal to sign Scotland international Phillips next month. But QPR may deny him a move and former Fulham man Frei is seen as a possible alternative for West Brom. (Daily Mirror)And here’s the latest headlines…Napoli plot January move for out-of-favour Manchester United defender Guillermo VarelaChelsea transfer report: Galatasaray target Blues midfielder John Obi MikelCarlo Ancelotti offered mega £11m-a-year deal to replace Andre Villas-Boas as Zenit bossChelsea and Man City send scouts to watch £10m-rated Ligue 1 star Cheikh N’DoyeJuan Cuadrado: Juventus stalling on permanent £14m deal for Chelsea flopLiverpool and Tottenham striker target Stefan Kiessling hints at Bayer Leverkusen exitReal Madrid target Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez as replacement for Cristiano Ronaldolast_img read more