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Winter 2015 Tributes
I’ve been producing performance material all my life but have only recently explored ‘new writing’ techniques. Just as I was starting to lose confidence that early green shoots had failed to develop, Criterion New Writing came along. The past three months have recharged my batteries, providing an intensive, stimulating approach to the dramatic writing process which will stand me in good stead in the future.
Greg Mosse is a charismatic, totally focussed teacher who has an amazing knack of challenging one’s existing notions of playwriting and making you think laterally. “You know all this really,” he’ll say, somewhat disingenuously, and maybe you do in an untidy, subconscious way; but what I came away with was a better sense of how to apply rigour and structure to my dramatic ideas.
Creative writers tend to work intuitively but not always constructively. We need to acquire both a disciplined approach to writing, and the methodology to fall back on so as to maintain the initial impetus. Having to circulate exercises on a fortnightly basis to other members of the group for feedback - some of whom already have impressive playwriting CVs - was initially daunting. One may start off being defensive about one’s work - then discover, as I did, that sharing it with people who are all striving to do the same thing is extremely liberating. It emboldens you, giving you permission to take risks, experiment - and send any tired, preconceived ideas packing.
So, thanks so much everyone at The Criterion and Greg and the gang for this wonderful opportunity to ‘chuck out the chintz’ and gain a new lease of life. I came away from the sessions full of new ideas, increased confidence and, above all, hope!
The Criterion New Writing programme is unlike any other group I've been part of. Greg's leadership is rigorous and detailed, and the chance to test work out loud with actors week after week was a real gift. This dedicatedly writer-led approach was hugely useful to the development of some existing and a few new works of mine. The thoughtful and forthright feedback from fellow writers was refreshing and always guided beautifully by Greg. I'd recommend it to any writer wanting to revisit the basics of structuring great drama, and test out their work in an supportive environment. It was also just a pleasure to spend a few hours on the gorgeous Criterion stage every fortnight!
It was an immense privilege to be part of the second-ever Criterion New Writing programme and to get the invaluable opportunity to workshop my writing with West End actors. Having the Criterion stage as our classroom was incredibly inspiring, and Greg is one of the best teachers I’ve had: challenging, highly strategic and unfailingly encouraging. I have a few Greg writing wisdoms that I now repeat to myself. The feedback I received from Greg, the excellent actors and the other playwrights greatly developed the pieces I was working on. I came away having learnt to think more dramaturgically and with an increased understanding of how to write for a big stage.
The Criterion New Writing programme has been an excellent experience. Not only did it give me a chance to see my work performed on a West End stage, but it provided me with a renewed confidence in my writing. Whereas perhaps previously I lacked discipline in analysing and rewriting my scripts, the six Criterion sessions show you how you can overcome the traps you fall into as a playwright, while taking you back to basics in how you construct character, dialogue and scenes so that you can push your play to its full potential. As the tutor and facilitator, Greg Mosse cultivates a supportive, constructive environment and is incredibly well-tuned to the writers on the programme, knowing how to draw out the best in their work. The feedback from the actors in the second half of the programme is similarly invaluable, as hearing the thoughts of those reading your extracts aloud really helps you to understand how your writing works as dramatic text. A fantastic programme that I would recommend to all playwrights looking to hone their craft.
After spending the last year focusing on writing manageable plays for smaller venues it was hugely freeing and exciting to be encouraged to think big during this programme, and both Greg and the other writers were insightful and positive in their critiques and encouragement on everything that I brought to the table. I’ve done a few writing courses before and was delighted to find that Greg had a way of exploring theatre that felt both true, effective and substantially different to what I’d gotten used to hearing from other teachers and theoreticians.
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