chapter  6
DRAMA
Pages 35

While writers of prose fiction have been free to explore the secret ‘inner rooms’ of their characters, to focus on their conscious and unconscious rhythms, the subject of writing in the drama arts (theatre, screenplay and radio) has shown how people express themselves together and to each other. Radio may be the exception; in this medium we can still represent inner voices occupying the mind and move from scene to scene with the speed of thought. In theatre and screenplay, however, no character can exist for long shielded behind his or her own isolated consciousness; he or she must come forward, confront, be confronted, and what he or she says or writes will be heard and read. Such a directive operates in fiction as well, but not to the same practical extent. Drama shows us both expression and reception. It must occur in spaces that are shared, and this aspect confirms its cultural history, one that reveals deep connections with music, mime, procession, ceremony and dance. Drama, as we shall see, derives its resonance from a sense of ritual and occasion. Writers whose original medium is not drama often observe its shift from inward to outward action. The poet Carol Rumens explains how when writing plays she has to adjust to this difference:

I think part of my mind is constantly on drama alert. What makes a drama-it’s first of all the day the play begins, that day which is unlike any other I must have a sense of that moment-the inciting incident, the extraordinary day-and of course at least one character! I also need a story that contains outward as well as inward actions. Now there are lots of stories around but I want a story that I can write in quite a deep interior way. I want to be able to write with the poet part of myself involved. And that’s difficult. At heart I am more interested in inward action. So I have to discipline myself to some degree and keep saying to myself, OK, now what will this character do?—how will I show, in action as well as images, what is felt?