Award-winning writing struggles into print

First Edition

ROD WOODEN is one of Britain's more a successful new playwrights. He has already won two top awards and has new plays opening atthe Royal Shakespeare Company and Manchester Royal Exchange are presenting his new plays works. of his. But no British publisher will touch them, writes David Lister.

Wooden has fallen is a victim of a trend that is alarming theatres and playwrights: publishers in the recession a recessionary periodare wary of printing the works of by playwrights who are not already widely known and guaranteed a reasonable sale.

As a result, the public who see the plays are unable to read them, and students in the future will be unable to get a picture of what new drama in 1993 was like. In addition publishers have driven a wedge betwen writers, with the newer playwrights increasingly resentful of established writers like Harold Pinter and David Hare, whose new plays are automatically published.

Wooden, who is 48 but has only in the last few years taken tobegan playwriting plays only in the last pasta few years ago, has won the Mobil and John Whiting playwriting awards. in the last three years. He is currently rehearsing Moby Dick at Stratford-upon-Avon. He has been told by Methuen, who have which has published previous work of his, and who havehas a strong good reputation for publishing new work, that they it will not publish either Moby Dick, opening at the RSC's Other Place theatre on 28 October, or Smoke, which opens in Novembernext month at the Manchester Royal Exchange, until they seeit sees how they fare go down. with audiences.

After getting the same response from every other British publisher, publishing company, (though an American company US firm has expressed was interested),other publishers, he has put 3,000 of his own money into setting up one of his own, publishing company, called 'Crimes Against Theatre'. He said: 'Both these plays are in high-profile theatres with bookshops. If you can't get plays published that are on at the RSC and Royal Exchange, then where can you? It's not about the money. You don't make money from having your plays published. It's so people that people can see the written wordwords. that led to that magic in front of their eyes. Also, future generations will know what theatre was like in 1993, and And But if you get the text published people are more likely to put on the play again. But with publishers taken over by big corporations they no longer want to be bothered with small sales.'

'People say your name is not well enough known, but how do you get known? It's the establishment, David Hare, Harold Pinter and the rest, saying no one else can join. But they are not in touch with the street. They are writing for the upper middle classes. When David Hare writes about the criminal justice system he has to research it. I've experienced it. We've got a responsibility as writers to start speaking to a different generation.'

Another new playwright, Gregory Motton, has just had a play on at the Royal Court, but this too is not being published by Methuen.

Colin Chambers, literary manager at the RSC, said: 'Things are changing. Anyone who publishes a play now has to have a strong commercial reason for doing so. Publishers have lost a lot of their independence and it's a very serious trend for writers.'

David Tushingham, drama editor at Methuen, said: 'This is a very difficult time for all publishers. We are in the fifth or sixth year of recession. Sales figures overall for a wide variety of playwrights have been going down. We published one play of Rod Wooden's and, although it won the premier playwriting award in the country, it still sold under 1,000 copies.' e only contracted to publish that play and we make artistic judgements on subsequent work when we read it.

'We have also published two plays of by Gregory Motton (he recently had a Royal Court production),. He who has had two more performed since they came out, but it's very difficult to publish everything a playwright does. We still publish well over 100 British living playwrights. and I don't accept a distinction between someone who is a younger writer and a more established writer who has written new plays. There is a similar risk involved.'

ends

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Voices
Ed Miliband and David Cameron are neck and neck in the polls
election 2015Armando Iannucci: on how British politics is broken
News
i100
Life and Style
Great minds like Einstein don't think alike
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Bristol

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power