Uncaused Effects – A brilliant audio piece on writing

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On Tuesday, I recorded a second interview for the Little Written podcast. I was interviewing one of the writers for Exeunt Magazine (details to come when the piece is released) and as part of my preparation, I listened to a few episodes of their podcast Pursued by a Bear.

I had been particularly directed to listen to the episode posted above: Uncaused Effects, which promised nine playwrights talking about of “all aspects of playwriting, from the initial sparks of thought to the blank page and, finally, to stage.” This sounded promising, so, with a couple of hours to kill in the decidedly uninspiring surroundings of the departure hall of Strasbourg International Airport, I cued up the episode on my generic MP3 device.

Thirty-seven minutes (and eighteen seconds) later, I returned to reality, genuinely a little bowled over by what I had heard. I do feel a little silly saying that it is only writers talking about writing, after all  but I really do think that Uncaused Effects is a brilliant piece of work, and it had me gripped from beginning to end. The quotation in the previous paragraph, taken from the show notes, really does not begin to do it justice; it is a much more ambitious and engaging piece of work than you might imagine from reading that description.

The episode is composed of nine different interviews, threaded together with snatches of music and the occasional bit of commentary to produce something that feels closer to sound collage than conversation. The interviews have been deconstructed and reassembled in thematic strands, covering the full sweep of the experience of script writing, from conception to performance.

The different contributors are edited together so densely and thoughtfully that you barely have time to stop and think; you are just swept along by a torrent of ideas. As a writer, I found this to be really quite an inspirational experience. Hearing nine working playwrights talking with such enthusiasm and positivity about writing, with such a broad range of perspectives, was really rather wonderful, and made me want to get down to work straight away!*

So if you are a writer, or if you are at all interested in writing, I would really recommend giving it a listen. It is not just about theatre; audio drama, film and TV all get a mention, and I’m sure novelists and poets would get something out of it too. It grabbed me at the start, gave me a good shake and reminded me why I wanted to write in the first place, an experience that is always welcome.

I think it deserves much wider exposure.

* I couldn’t, sadly. I was stuck at an airport without computer or paper (see paragraph two).


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