What is a playscript?

  • Kristin Fredricksson (Speaker)

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference


Paper given at 'Performing Documents' conference, Bristol University.

I recently received a request from the British Library for the script of my collectively devised piece, Cooking Ghosts, recently performed in London and on tour. I have been considering what I could give them. There is a script, but in it are references to specially created films and specific objects which form part of the matter of the piece. It cannot easily be reduced down to a script. Should I add descriptions of the films and objects? How detailed should they be? Beckettian? Then there is the fact the films are not of any people, but of me and my family; the work is autobiographical, and much of the text spoken in the piece is verbatim. Could a script and DVD of the original production provide an adequate script? Some of the projected films are too small to be seen in the video of the performance. Should the script be an electronic document where the videos interrupt the script at appropriate points, with a description of how they were used in the show? To what extent does this experience become a kind of interactive book version of the show? What is the point of a script of this show? In a sense it would be nonsense for someone else to stage it. But it could be done. The content of the films could not be identical, unless the original films were used, but rules could be established for how they might be rendered afresh. In the unlikely event it happened, would and could the resulting work be called a production of Cooking Ghosts? It's debatable. It might be better termed 'inspired by', or 'based on'. We are in the realms of adaptation, even though I am talking about an adaptation of a stage work for the stage. Because it can never be the show it was, where one of the performers (me), is actually one of the central characters in the story. However another angle could be taken; the making of the show and its initial version could be seen simply as script development, and henceforth the script could be available to be performed as a fiction by other companies. By considering several examples of script made after a devising process, I will reflect on the inherent problems and possible solutions involved in this process, and on what the multiple aims of such an undertaking might be. I will look at two kinds of work; autobiographical and 'documentary'. I will consider the 'scripts' of contemporary artists working with autobiographical material, such as Victoria Melody and Ursula Martinez, and those of two theatre companies who have made work based on real events; Analogue (2001 Objects), and Complicite (A Disappearing Number). I will also contrast these with the way Bobby Baker catalogues her past work in 'Redeeming Features of Everyday Life', in which she erects kind of gravestones for each work with their salient features.
Period12 Apr 2013
Event typeOther


  • Performance
  • Script
  • Autobiographical