AN INTERVIEW WITH ROB DRUMMER
Bush Theatre is based in the old Shepherd’s Bush Public Library, just right cross the road from Shepherd’s Bush Market Tube Station. In the later interview, we found that those young people, holding their computers thoughtfully and discussing warmly, in the library on the first floor might be the rising stars of Bush Theatre.
Rob Drummer is Associate Dramaturg in the theatre. He graduated from Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London. He was one of the first recipients of an Artists’ International Development Fund from the Arts Council and British Council, travelling to South Africa to collaborate. Although Rod is very young, there have been several directed or written by him on the stage in London.
布什劇場(Bush Theatre)就座落在謝菲爾德布什市場(Shepherd’s Bush Market)地鐵站的斜對面,在原來的謝菲爾德布什社區圖書館 (Shepherd’s Bush Public Library)裡。在後來的采訪中,我們才 知道劇場一層的圖書室裡那些抱著電腦若有所思、或者三五成群圍坐 討論的年輕人,也許正是布什劇場的明日之星。
我們的受訪對象洛伯·德拉姆爾是劇場的文學編劇。他畢業於皇家中 央演講和戲劇學院(Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London),曾受英国藝術委員会(Arts Council)的資助前 往南非開展新寫作計劃,雖然年紀輕輕,已有好幾部由他擔任編劇或者 導演的作品被搬上倫敦的舞臺。
PI: PERFORMANCE INFINITY / RD: ROB DRUMMER
PI: Our special issue this time focuses on an introduction of “New Writing”. Many of our readers in China are not familiar with the difference between “New Writing” and “New Play”. We hope to introduce the British theatre culture to Chinese audience, as well as to find more opportunities of international cooperation in the field of new writing.
RD: There is a new real interest in this country about looking at East Asian writers and narratives, and trying to explore more of their works on British stages. I have started to do an early work with a Chinese British writer who is curating a group of writers (now at least 30) at Young Vic. At Bush theatre, a part of Shepherd’s Bush, we are trying to look at the diversity of this community in a contemporary way. In the coming years, we are looking at more diversified works and putting them on stage, including new writing works from non-English speaking countries. I think we (certainly in the UK and London) have the responsibility of putting more diversity on stage, responding to contemporary culture. I am excited about your project, just by talking with Chinese audiences about theatre, about new writing. The form of new writing hopefully might become a way of storytelling, about the life we are living through. So this is Great.
At Bush, international work becomes a huge part of our ambitions here. This is inspired by the community. If you walk down the Bush Market, you would understand what and who the community is. We are willing to develop works by local writers of Shepherd’s Bush, as well as national writhers from across the UK, international writers. The three-week Radar festival is a good example. This year there is a production from Spain, a new South African play, and there are also stories about the local community.
PI: 我們新一期的雜誌專門探討“新寫作”話題,主要讀者是中國的戲劇 觀眾。我們希望中國觀眾有更多地機會了解和參與英國的戲劇文化。也 希望能就新寫作方面探討國際合作的可能。
RD: 當然。在英國,目前有一個新的方向是對東亞作家及其作品的關注。 我們非常願意了解更多來自非英語國家的、亞洲文化背景的作品。也願意 和中國的觀眾探討英國的戲劇。新寫作這種關註當下的戲劇文化,也許可 以在未來的中國成為講述故事的新形式。
布什劇場推行的新寫作文化,是國際的新寫作;來自國際的作品是我們工 作中重要的一環。例如我們馬上到來的“雷達(Radar)”戲劇節,就既有當 地社區的作品,又有來自南非、西班牙等世界各地的寫作新秀。
PI: Please introduce the New Writing Plan at Bush Theatre to our audiences who had never been here before. For instance, what is the general process of producing a new play, from scripts to stage?
RD: We are a new writing theatre, we only produce new plays in English from local, national or international writers. We received plays from a number of ways. We probably receive and read about 2,500 plays. We receive plays (two rounds submission per year: spring and autumn) from individual writers who don’t have agencies; that’s about 1,500 plays a year. These are usually works at the very early stages. We read those plays within three or four months and make a shortlist. We also receive plays for agents. They are writers who might have some previous experience in writing. And thirdly we receive plays from other theatres, directors or companies.
After reading all the works, then we decide to either seed-commission or full-commission a writer. Seed-commission is a small amount of money to develop the idea, and look a bit further and then we can meet and talk about the progress. A full commission is to fund a writer who has already a clear idea; they will provide a first draft and then after receiving our feedback, a second draft. That could take from 6 months to a year. Then we consider that work for programming on main stage.
Then we run the play for about six weeks. We produce four shows a year in house and then coproduce two shows with other theatres. There are six plays a year.
We believe the most valuable way to develop a writer is to produce their play and get their play in front of the audience. Every play under commission will have at least have a chance of reading with the creation team. So through communicating with directors and actors, the work becomes live before the playwright. The ambition is always to turn a seed commission to a full commission, a full commission to production, and help writers to develop a longer career. We want to produce bigger and bolder plays here, we want to create a type of storytelling, a type of narrative in our theatre and the best way to do that is to keep on developing plays in house.
PI: 請為我們介紹一下布什劇場的新寫作計劃。例如,一部戲從劇本寫就 到舞臺呈現的過程。
RD: 我們是一個只排演新劇本的新寫作劇院。我們一年總共收到大約 2500部作品。其中完全出自寫作新手的作品大約有1500部。我們可能要 花3到4個月的時間閱讀這些初期作品,從中選擇幾百個感興趣的作品進 行排表,然後在第二輪再選出六個作品,幫作者發展這些作品。此外,我 們也會從經紀人和其他劇院那收到一部分作品。
我們對感興趣的新寫作作家主要有兩種支持方式:種子計劃和完整計 劃。完整計劃中,我們協助作家一起完成劇本的一稿、二稿;為他們提供 專門的排演空間和導演、演員、觀眾探討的機會;獨立制作4部作品,2部 與其他劇場或公司合作。我們相信發展新作家的最佳方式,是將他們的 作品搬到舞臺之上,觀眾面前。當然我們的終極目標是把所有列入種子 計劃的作品發展為完整計劃,將所有完整計劃的劇本變成舞臺作品呈現 在觀眾面前。
PI: What are the differences between staging a new writing play and a classic work? Does it mean more recourses and efforts?
RD: Yes. It sounds like a long and lonely process and it means more time, more financial resources to spend. It also means collaboration from an earlier point, because you are collaborating with the writer from the moment you read the first page.
If I would be directing Three Sisters, I don’t have the privilege to have the writer in the room, therefore it sort of forces the director to interpret what he/she thinks. When you put a writer in the process, it becomes a wonderfully exciting relationship. For instance, the writers start being asked questions he/she has never been asked. The collaboration might take some more time and becomes a more emotional process, but in the end hopefully this relationship brings a stronger, more interesting, more exciting work.
PI: 和處理經典作品相比,與新寫作的作家合作,有哪些不一樣的地方? 從你剛才講的過程來看,需要更多的精力吧?
RD: 是的,這個過程可能聽上去漫長孤單,也意味著更多的時間和花銷。 這是一種更早期的合作。如果我去導演像《三姐妹》這樣的作品,就沒有 能和作家進行交流的優勢了。在這個合作過程中,作家也可能會遇到以前 沒想過的問題,這也是最讓人激動也令人反思的過程。這個過程可能需 要更多的時間,也會牽涉更多的情感交流,但是最後,這樣的合作也往往 能產生更加強烈、有趣、激動人心的作品。
PI: Do you have any suggestions for the beginners in new writing? Do you have any suggestions about training, courses or books?
RD: Yes. The one thing I try to encourage the writers, is before they come to present the idea to us, make sure you live with that idea. As storytellers, sometimes we can get lost in the technique of writing; you go to courses, workshops, get MA, MFA degrees, and all you concentrate on is the dialogue, character, details, structure… The thing that I suggest is to sit down with your idea, go out to the world, listen to what’s people taking about, talk to your family and friends and interrogate what for you is that urgent story. And once you got that, you will then find the way of transiting that to your audience. So, think about the question you at the central of your play and how is everything else feed into that question.
Watch international cinema, visit art galleries, go to a walk to a part of city you’ve never been to, go to a bar on your own, take a plane journey somewhere on your own. Do experience the world and document all of that, write it down and then work out how you are going to tell the story.
Look outside the theatre, otherwise it will be a conversation between theatre makers. We need theatre makers committed to outside contemporary world. Theatre in this country used to be quite literally the place for social debates. You would go to a theatre to understand much more what’ s happening around you and around the world. We are a country where theatre historically has made a lot more than having a nice night out.
Read a lot of works. Go to see good plays and bad plays. Become an expert in theatre history, understand why Shakespeare is brilliant; don’t just read the Bible or Conrad, but go read interculturally, works in translations from China, Japan, Australia etc. Not only engage with western or English literature, also understand how Twitter works, and all these of things that we are living through help you create interesting and dynamic stories.
About getting responses. I once worked in Geneva for an international writing conference. There was a novelist who said that you need two types of critiques: the first is somebody you knows quite well, normally a friend or a parent. Give them everything you write and ask for their feedback; all they’ll tell you is that you are great, your writing is amazing; that will keep on writing. Second type of critique should be someone who has no emotional connection to you whatsoever, who can say anything to you without upsetting you, and that feedback could be important for you to develop your work. These two types of critique are important for a writer.
PI: 能否給那些沒有足夠的勇氣或不知如何開始的新手們一些建議? 有 沒有推薦的課程、相關的培訓或者書籍?
RD: 當然,參加工作坊、接受相關學位課程,固然能獲得角色、細節、結 構等技巧方面的培訓。但我的建議是首先,坐下來思考,理清你的想法, 因為最關鍵的,是你的問題,那個處於整個作品核心位置、整天讓你起床 睡覺都為之神魂顛倒的想法。戲劇中心的疑問是什麽?我不希望聽到一 個模糊搖擺的答案。所以盡管參與課程很重要,但我的建議更重要的是 感受世界,去城市裡未曾到達的地方散步,看展覽,獨自去酒吧,乘飛機 去某個角落,將這一切記錄下來,然後思索如何架構和講述自己的故事。 在英國歷史上,戲劇遠不至於一個打發夜晚時光的愉快方法,人們去劇 院也是為了更好地理解周遭和理解世界。
然後是廣泛的涉獵。閱讀好的和不好的作品,理解莎士比亞的偉大之處;了 解 本 土 的 、國 際 的 、不 局 限 於 西 方 作 品 。自 己 去 發 現 ,例 如 推 特( T w i t t e r ) 是如何運行的,故事有多豐富。努力成為各個方面的專家:戲劇史,社會 史,經濟體制,社會辯論…
其次,到外面去,和更多的人探討自己的想法。接受更多地回饋。我在日 內瓦的時候曾經聽到這樣一種關於劇作家如何接受反饋的建議:劇作家 應該和兩類人探討自己的作品,第一類是熟知你的人,第二類是陌生的 人 。前 者 ,如 家 人 朋 友 會 告 訴 你 有 多 棒 ,鼓 勵 你 繼 續 下 去 ,而 後 者 ,會 給 你 更中肯的建議,讓你變得更好。
之所以要向外看,是因為歸根結底,舞臺就是關於你周邊發生的事。這也 是我們熱愛戲劇的理由,它為你打開一個新的世界。所以,新作家們,大 膽地思考吧。
PI: Maybe one sentence to describe the special position of Bush Theatre in this new theatre culture?
RD: Bush theatre champions, nurtures, develops new writers at early stage of their career or encourages established writers to work in a different way while responding to our contemporary culture, promoting diversity of narrative, as well as the diversity of writers themselves. To be more ambitious of the stories we tell, the way of telling them, and to be a lot more honest about reflecting London and Britain that we are all part of, in our theatre on our stage.
For us, what are really characterizing our work now is: since moving into the old Shepherd’s Bush Library, we found ourselves part of the Uxbridge Road, part of this thriving west London community, which is diverse in culture background, in class, economic situations. And we want to celebrate that; we want to keep our doors open to that. And we really want to ensure that our new writers don’t become footnotes in our new writing ecology.
RD: 布什劇場支持、滋養和發掘正處於寫作生涯初期的作家,回應當代 文化,推崇敘事的多樣性,講述我們置身其中的倫敦和英國。
我們的特色在於,自從搬進位於阿克斯布里奇(Uxbridge)路的謝菲爾 德布什圖書館,我們就感到自己是這個充滿活力的、多樣化社區的一部 分;我們將以開放的態度來接納和推崇這種倫敦多元社區文化的發展。 我們認為,新作家在戲劇生態裡不應成為別人的腳註,而應當是這個時 刻的主流聲音。
It was noon when we left this building, we paid a purposely visit to Shepherd’s Bush Market on the corner, the market next to it. Many hawker stalls from all over the world and of all different colours had already set up their booths. In this long and seemingly endless lane, it is like somewhere else, or, more precisely, in an unusual London. What Rob has been always stressed seems to be clear, which is that new writing is to write the surrounding and write the moment. And this new writing in Bush Theatre can be so natural and logical.
在正午離開劇場的時候,我們特意拐彎去 了一趟旁邊的集市——謝菲爾德布什集 市。來自世界各地、各種膚色的小攤小販們 早就擺好了攤位;在這長長的、一眼望不 到 頭 的 街 巷 裏 ,就 好 像 一 下 子 置 身 別 處 ,或 者更確切地說,置身一個與平日裏不同的 倫 敦 。似 乎 明 白 了 洛 伯 一 直 強 調 的 ,新 寫 作 是 為 了 書 寫 周 邊 、書 寫 當 下 。而 這 種 書 寫 在 布 什 劇 場 ,可 以 如 此 自 然 而 然 、順 理 成 章 。