Monday, 7 December 2009

On Writing #4: The stream of unconscious

In the summer of 98, I experienced a strange writing-related incident when I was working on a play entitled the Paper House.

The basic plot of The Paper House is: a couple with marital and medicinal problems are in their bedroom preparing for their vacation when they're interrupted by a young burglar who, it turns out, the husband had arranged to rob their house (but the burglar arrived one day too early). What happens next is a mock-courtroom set-up in the bedroom where the husband and wife battle against each other, their secrets and weaknesses are exposed, while the befuddled burglar has become an unwitting juror/hostage.

I wrote The Paper House with Edward Albee's Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf in mind.

When I finished my first draft I printed off two copies and got my parents to read it out - I played the befuddled burglar. To my embarrassment I realised that the two 'characters' where caricatures of my mother and father, revealing what were to my mind their worst aspects. I wanted to stop the read-through, but carried on.

It was very strange watching this happen before me; first to see my parents reading it out aloud not realising what I had done, that was bizarre enough; second, recognizing how this play came directly out of my unconscious - it did come very naturally.

This incident demonstrated how cathartic writing can be, how everyday experiences can filter into writing, sometimes explicitly, othertimes unconsciously.

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