She writes plays.
I start with this statement, because usually I praise books and occasionally films, but remember how I also do a lot of theatre? I’ve now lit a fair amount of work by Moira Buffini, and I think her plays are wonderful. I first encountered her work on a production of Silence, which always stuck in my mind as one of the first plays I ever lit where I got to create arty stuff, and atmospheres, instead of just lights up, lights down. It was also a play full of women – not Women Being Strong or Women Being Oppressed as tends to be the two archetypes (also: Women Being Sexy, the fated third route), but just women. Being… you know… people. Who happen to be women.
Then I lit a production of Dying For It, which was loosely adapted from a Russian play and is in its adaptation both hilarious, moving, hugely entertaining and accessible but also deeply, deeply Russian. My lighting wasn’t very good, but the words were.
Now I’m working on Welcome to Thebes – or will have finished working on it, by the time this post goes live – and despite having read the script multiple times and sat in rehearsals for weeks, it still makes me get a bit teary-eyed in places. Not in a rending of garments way, not in a gorey or overtly too pathosy way, just… people. People being people of awesome. And again, it’s just soggy in women, but not women as Women, but women as people. It’s a play full of big ideas, but also incredibly personal words and lives, meshing all these things together at once. It’s a no-where play that is everywhere; it’s a play that is all about the stories and is at the same time all about this real world, it’s just…
… frankly, it’s just straight-up brilliant. A down-the-line brilliant bit of writing that proves that plays can be unbelievably rich, and complex, and simple, and clean, and grubby and fulfilling and just… awesome. God knows what the lighting will be like, but it is a show I cannot wait to tech.
A lot of shows you work on where good acting and good directing raises a fairly meh script to being moderately acceptable. A lot of shows you work on where despite the brilliance of the text, somewhat dodgy acting and lacklustre directing does the opposite. With Moira Buffini, I think you’d have to struggle, really put your back into making a truly bad show. The words shine through, and the words are brilliant, and human, and funny, and true.