The playwright and his theatre : Howard Brenton, David Hare and Snoo Wilson
In the context of changes in British theatre theory and practice, in particular in the post-1968 Fringe, is it possible to consider playscripts as literary works,expressing the views of individual writers? The emphasis within the early Fringe was on collectively organized workshops and group creativity, and on the exploration of non-verbal expression on stage, something which had been anticipated by the pre-1968 avant-garde and which amounted to a challenge to the playwright's traditionally dominant position in the theatre. However, the playscript, as an example of written fictional narrative, dependent on the theatre for its realization but not its creation, still commands an independent status as a work, and the fiction enables the playwright to explore and evaluate reality in his own terms. Snoo Wilson's works illustrate his clear awareness on the power of fiction to posit the equal reality of the rational and the irrational in dramatic terms, as a metaphor for our way of understanding reality outside the theatre, where reality and fiction seem difficult to distinguish. David Hare focusses on the discrepancy between fiction and reality in the way we experience our lives and interpret history, and he seeks, as a conscious story-teller, to reveal, in imaginative terms, how that discrepancy leads to actual suffering. Howard Brenton's declared preference for content and fact, rather than form and fiction, and for the theatre as a democratic medium, cannot conceal his consistent endeavour to use fictional narrative as fantastic as Wilson's to oppose bourgeois versions of reality. In spite of their having learned to work with theatre companies and, hence, come to see themselves as parts of a larger, complex art, these playwrights, like their predecessors, continue to write fictions which express their personal vision in a form, print, that is accessible and analysable in isolation from actual performance.