Andreas Jeninga/The Hoya New Zealand playwright Roger Hall spoke Monday night in McNeir Hall. Hall advised students to be open to audience reaction and rewrites.

New Zealand playwright Roger Hall delivered a sincere and humorous lecture about the “ins and outs” of playwriting last night in McNeir Hall.

Hall, speaking without a microphone, began by admitting that the title of his lecture, “Fifteen Years to Become an Overnight Success” was rather frivolous but reflected some truth about the art of playwriting.

“Even Shakespeare was a virgin,” he said. “There was a time in his life when he hadn’t written a single play.”

Hall’s lecture was full of useful tips on how best to approach the craft and interwoven with witty remarks that had the audience laughing heartily.

Unafraid of self-deprecating humor, he joked, “You will be happy to know that this book is not for sale outside after the talk.”

In addition to discussing his life as a playwright, which he covered in his autobiography, Hall described his adult life before he achieved success.

Regarding his departure from England to New Zealand as a young man, Hall underscored the importance of traveling abroad.

“Leaving home is an extraordinary experience because it gives you a new set of eyes,” he said.

Hall said his dream had been to write a play that would be on the British Broadcasting Company and the ultimate response he got from them was ego shattering.

“Why don’t you just give up?” they told him.

But he proudly stated, “The next day I was back home, I got out the typewriter, and I went right back to writing.”

Hall’s first taste of success came when one of his plays filled a 660-seat venue in New Zealand and drew in crowds from all over New Zealand and Australia.

Despite how hard he worked to get where he is today, Hall has still managed not to take himself too seriously.

“I am aware that in many traditions this isn’t considered a real job,” he joked.

Being serious when necessary, he said that theater is great because it gives the playwright the perfect feedback, a luxury that novelists do not have.

“Don’t watch your play, watch the audience,” he said. “That will always give you a better idea. You can always rewrite.”

“And,” he added with a smile, “the money can even be quite good.”

But as his meager beginning as a writer indicates, this was never a major concern for Hall.

Hall offered advice to students about succeeding in writing theater.

“The way to become a good playwright is to write a play, and then you find out what you need to know,” he said. “Join a theater group, even if it’s backstage, to learn the craft. If you can’t take rejection, don’t do it. You will get some horrendous reviews. If you can’t take that, and you can’t take rewriting, then you can’t be a playwright.”

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.