In a class I teach, a student asked me if each week I could bring in something to help them along. Not biscuits, no (we already have biscuits): something he called 'survival tips'. What a strange profession this is. It's the best of everything (freedom, self-expression, creativity) and the not-so-best (financial insecurity, self-doubt, rejection). 7-ON, for me, is a central piece of the 'survival' puzzle: a group of colleagues I can talk to when trying to make sense of the dizzying highs and the dizzying lows. And I suppose what we offer each other are informal survival tips, gleaned from our own experience or the wise words of our peers and playwriting ancestors.
What we want to do this week, with seven days and seven of us, is take turns in offering a 'thought for the day'. Something to inspire you to get to the next page. So, here is Monday's:
A good play I think should always feel as though it's only barely been rescued from the brink of chaos, as though all the yummy nutritious ingredients you've thrown into it have almost-but-not-quite succeeded in overwhelming the design. A play should have barely been rescued from the mess it might just as easily have been; just as each slice of lasagne should stand tall, while at the same time betray its entropic desire towards collapse, just as the lasagne should seem to want to dissolve into meat and cheese stew, so you can marvel all the more at the culinary engineering magic that holds such entropy at bay, that keeps the unstackable firmly, but not too firmly, stacked. A good play, like a good lasagne, should be overstuffed: It has a pomposity, and an over-reach: Its ambitions extend in the direction of not-missing-a-trick, it has a bursting omnipotence up its sleeve, or rather, under its noodles: It is pretentious food.
Tony Kushner (On Pretentiousness, 1995)