Each year, students on our Theatre Studies Postgraduate Taught programmes stage a play-reading event to showcase their works in progress. MLitt Theatre Studies student Hannah Harper tells us about her experience.
There’s something incredibly magical about staged play-readings – maybe it’s the overwhelming potential of the work, yet to be unlocked; perhaps it’s the knowledge that somewhere in the audience a playwright’s heart is about to burst with nerves and excitement. The University of Glasgow’s annual play-reading event, hosted by the Theatre Studies department, is an evening of new work, presented by the MLitt Playwriting and Dramaturgy program, a group of eager and innovative emerging artists. It provides an excellent opportunity for students to interact with their peers’ work, to mingle with established practitioners, to bear witness to the birth of new ideas, and to drink wine. And let’s be honest – the only think I like better than drinking wine with my friends is doing so while watching theatre.
The works created for the event were developed during the Playwriting 2 course, under the tutelage of award-winning playwright Lynda Radley. Once the plays were complete, a playwright and dramaturge were united to select an excerpt from the play, and prepare it for performance – this is the beauty of the event. It creates opportunities for artists to work with their peers in pursuit of a common goal, offering as it does so real-world experience in the dramaturgical field. Ranging from train stations to beaches, from strangers to lovers, from fantasy to reality, the eight plays we witnessed during the event pushed theatrical boundaries, invited personal reflection, and made us laugh out loud.
Truth be told, it is challenging to summarise the dedication my classmates made to the event and each other in a few sentences. I was genuinely inspired by the work I saw at the event, and the ways in which the dramaturges supported the playwrights’ processes, and eased their worries before the performances. I think that too often the theatrical world is riddled with competitions, and the belief that personal success comes only with the failure of others. What the Theatre Department has offered us with this event is the chance to work collaboratively with our peers in a positive environment, and the reminder that when artists support each other, the results are stunning and universal.
Plus, free wine never hurts.