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Review: THE PLAYWRIGHT'S JOURNEY by Jemma Kennedy

Review: THE PLAYWRIGHT'S JOURNEY by Jemma Kennedy

BroadwayWorld reviews this delightful journey through the craft of playwriting.

Review: THE PLAYWRIGHT'S JOURNEY by Jemma Kennedy Exquisitely written, extraordinarily perceptive, and delightful to read, Jemma Kennedy's The Playwright's Journey is a joyful meander through creative process.

A seasoned playwright, screenwriter and mentor, Kennedy can take her rightful place alongside the other nine muses. Her ethos on writing is gorgeous, all centred around fluidity, enjoyment, and collaboration.

The book's balance of simplicity and ambition enables its tone, which doesn't patronise a reader with 'how things should be done'. Rather, it presents innumerable tips, perspectives, and approaches to developing a writing practice. Kennedy's authorial voice is so commanding, her wealth of experience permeating every snippet of knowledge provided. Yet she's also a witty, affirming, and gentle guide.

This reviewer isn't a playwright, yet the freedom to 'daydream', as Kennedy names it, had ideas popping into my (usually quite empty) noggin throughout reading: definitely read the book with a pen and a notebook to hand!

Interspersed throughout are case studies provided by fellow playwrights, ex-students and/or peers, which demonstrate how to 'troubleshoot' a play. Seeing these real-life examples weds Kennedy's experience with that of others, creating an extremely cooperative tone that is carried through the whole text. From developing characters, writing dialogue, to understanding how to wrestle subtext into your script, the case-studies provide vital practice-based examples to anchor to the tools being given to you.

The advice given is always sympathetic to remembering the strange nature of the playtext. As something that might one day come to life on stage, Kennedy always bears in mind that 'a playscript is a blueprint, not a literary work' (180). The majority of the pages are dedicated to the creation of a first draft, yet the final sixty-or-so hold invaluable information about what might come next. Redrafting, elements of the production process, criticism, amongst other aspects of the 'journey' of the play are addressed, all presented with the same sharp wisdom.

I would encourage anybody with even a passing interest in writing a play to read this book. It is a hand to hold through the vulnerability of creation, and the generosity of its insight is priceless. If you're not a writer and have no aspirations to be, it's still a glorious behind-the-scenes journey to undertake. Students, producers, stage managers, directors, dramaturgs, theatre-goers: if you want to understand more about the extraordinary craft of playwrighting, this book won't let you down.

The Playwrights Journey is out now

Read our interview with author Jemma Kennedy



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Exquisitely written, extraordinarily perceptive, and delightful to read, Jemma Kennedy's The Playwright's Journey is a joyful meander through creative process.

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