Shortly following is my favorite line
from the play
, The Real Thing
. It is delivered by Henry
, a writer
. It's delivered to Annie
, an actress
(slightly more background can be found in Gritchka's
excellent write-up above). The two of them are arguing over the value of writing, or rather how
the value of writing should be determined.
has been claiming that writing is subjective
, and that people (specifically Henry
) shouldn't go around claiming works are inherently good or bad. She's pointed out that the rules of writing were developed in the halls of academia
, and that real people shouldn't necessary be bound by them. This is Henry
Shut up and listen. This thing here, which looks like a wooden club, is actually several pieces of particular wood cunningly put together in a certain way so that the whole thing is sprung, like a dance floor. It's for hitting cricket balls with. If you get it right, the cricket ball will travel two hundred yards in four seconds, and all you've done is give it a knock like knocking the top off a bottle of stout, and it makes a noise like a trout taking a fly... (He clucks his tongue to make the noise.) What we're trying to do is to write cricket bats, so that when we throw up an idea and give it a little knock, it might ... travel ... (He clucks his tongue again and picks up the script.) Now, what we've got here is a lump of wood of roughly the same shape trying to be a cricket bat, and if you hit a ball with it, the ball will travel about ten feet and you will drop the bat and dance about shouting 'Ouch!' with your hands stuck into your armpits. (Indicating the cricket bat.) This isn't better because someone says it's better, or because there's a conspiracy by the MCC to keep cudgels out of Lords. It's better because it's better...
The point here, of course, is that a play is a tool. You don't judge tools by some sort of arbitrary or subjective standard. You judge tools based on how well they get the job done. The job of a play might be to inform, entertain, or persuade (in the case of Brodie's play, to take action); a well written play will do its job better.
The scene interesting for many other reasons as well, but to apprecate them all you really need to go see it. As soon as possible, it's quite good.