What is “New Writing”? Before coming to UK, I have never heard about the term. Yet, in 2012, the term has been given its official corresponding Chinese translation, and has been widely accepted ever since. Thanks to the collaboration between Scotland National Theatre and Director Qinxin Tian from China National Theatre Institute, the young playwright writing initiative introduces the term “New Writing” to China. But exactly what kind of work belongs to this genre of “ New Writing “? What new writing theatres are there in the United Kingdom? Is there any exciting new writing programs? These are the questions that our special feature attempts to address.
Aleks Sierz, British theatre critic, once defined the term “New Writing” in his Rewriting the Nation: British Theatre Today (Plays and Playwrights), that “it’s a very British idea…it is new not only to audiences but also to its directors, designers and actors. And although it can be more expensive to put on than revivals of classics, new writing is the heart of British culture. British theatre has always staged new plays, but the history of new writing is comparatively recent, and has always been involved in the project of rewriting our ideas about national identity.” In addition, Sierz also pinpointed some of the key elements of this genre: original and distinctive voice of the writer, presentation of words with obvious significance, as well as greater emphasis on artistic value over its commercial value.
Based on the information above, I attempt to explain why “New Writing” has been so rapidly accepted in China. Shakespeare was the first foreign theatrical practitioner ever introduced to China, and because of him, there has been a Chinese contemporary theatrical tradition, which places greater significance on play writing. In the creation of “New Writing”, playwrights are often times young writers or had little prior experience with writing plays. China has enjoyed an accelerated rate of development, given the policy orientation towards economic development. In such context, theatrical culture was once in decline in China. However, with current policies that encourage the development of cultural sector, more and more people have shared their fanfare and concern for the once-forsaken art of theatre. With a plethora of new performance venues collectively built, the relative lack of new scripts has contributed to the popularity of “New Writing”.
什麽是“新寫作(New Writing)”?在來到英國之前,我從來沒有聽過這 個名詞。然而在2012年,對應這個名詞,竟出現了正式的中文翻譯,並且 流傳甚廣。正是因為2012年蘇格蘭國家劇院和中國國家話劇院導演田沁 鑫合作發起的青年作家寫作計劃,“新寫作”這個名詞才得以被介紹到中 國。可是到底怎樣的作品才算得上“新寫作”?英國有哪些新寫作劇場?有 什麽激動人心的新寫作項目?這正是我們在這一期專題裏試圖為大家解 開的答案。
英國戲劇評論家阿萊克斯·斯爾澤(Aleks Sierz)曾在他《重述英倫:今日 英國劇場》一書中定義“新寫作”:“這是一個非常英國的主意……不僅僅 對於觀眾是新概念,對於導演,設計師和演員而言同樣也是新的。比起演 出現有劇本或者改編劇本要昂貴很多。英國的舞臺經常演出新作品,但 是“新寫作”是一個很當代的概念。某種意義上,它的概念就是撰寫著我們 這個國家的身份認同于面貌。”於此同時,斯爾澤還給出了能夠被稱為新 寫作的幾個要素:作者的聲音要原創並且獨立;呈現鮮明的,有意義的文 字;重視藝術性多於商業性。
根據上述信息,我試圖尋找“新寫作”在中國能被如此迅速地接受的原因。 莎士比亞是第一位被介紹到中國的外國戲劇家,這也就逐漸形成了中國 現代戲劇重視劇本的一種傳統。在“新寫作”的創作中,通常作者都比較年 輕,或者是劇本創作的新手。在經濟發展為導向的政策下急速發展的中 國,劇場文化曾一度消沉,然而在當下鼓勵文化產業發展的政策下,越來 越多的人開始重新拾起對於劇場藝術的關注。面對那些集中興建的眾多 演出場所,新劇本的相對匱乏也為“新寫作”的流行創造了條件。更是由於 新寫作的“草根”性,專業的戲劇背景並不是必須的,在一個高手潛伏民間 的時代,這也為更多的人打開了一扇門。產生於擁有發達戲劇產業,優秀 劇場藝術的英國,“新寫作”在英國的蓬勃發展讓中國期待無限。
Furthermore, because professional background in theatre is not a necessary prerequisite for “New Writing”, such scripts can be a product of grassroots writers. In this era with countless creative talents hidden among the common folks, the wave of “New Writing” provides a new window of opportunity. Born in the United Kingdom, where theatre industry is highly mature and theatrical works of excellence are never lacking, “New Writing” has burgeoned in its home, and left unlimited hopes for China.
In our dearest hope, the content of this feature will spread the seed of “New Writing” all over China, much akin to a rosette of dandelion, allowing its seeds to find roots and grow in new grounds.