(Peter Crawley’s article appeared in the Irish Times, 10/30.)

Late in September, not long before the Dublin Theatre Festival began, the festival approached The Irish Times to discuss a collaboration. The idea was simple, ambitious and close enough to madness to qualify for inclusion in the programme. Laurence Mackin, the Arts and Ticket editor of The Irish Times, invited 10 playwrights to contribute a scene each towards a short play, passing it on like a baton. The finished result would then receive a rehearsed reading by a professional director and cast at the end of the festival. The entire project would come together in three weeks, with most of the writing done in just two weeks, leaving two days to rehearse. How hard could it be?

Such improbable undertakings require a sense of propulsion, and the fuel reserves of the festival, when several productions are opening daily, can be surprisingly easy to siphon. Other things are counter-intuitive: the busier playwrights are, the more inclined they are to agree to a tall order with a 36-hour deadline (most of the playwrights had recently seen a new work staged), as though creative momentum was better to sustain. But the most crucial aspect was getting the ball rolling. 


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