To be or not to be, that’s no longer the question. Any old schlub from the creative writing course can come up with the kingdom-for-a-horse very-flat-Norfolk stuff. Today’s playwright never writes a word. Instead, he lives on the cutting edge, taking hours of unwieldy transcripts and cutting them to give them edge. He takes dictation. He goes and interviews people at great length and then cuts-&-pastes and assembles their words into little homemade soliloquies. In Britain, hardly a week goes by without somebody “writing” a play about Guantanamo, the run-up to the Iraq war, IRA terrorism, etc., entirely compiled from the authentic words of the participants in trial transcripts, public hearings, diaries, etc. It’s surely only a matter of time before you see in the theater program: “No literary flourishes were used in the making of this production.” Critics can carp about this trend toward...


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