Choice (PP5) and The Writer

I have to admit that neither I nor the group I went with got much out of the Almeida’s production of a new play, The Writer.  There are big issues of power and gender there, and interesting transgression of the boundaries between different roles of author, director, audience and assistants, but I found the second half dreary and clumsy.   Which puts me out of line with most of the critics, but there you are.

There was, however, one scene which captured completely the essence of Paula Principle Factor 5 – positive choice.  The eponymous writer clashes with her boyfriend over whether she should sign the contract for a large fee to convert her play into a film script.  The scene opens with him preparing dinner to celebrate the contract, and ends with him pouring the cassoulet over her computer in frustration at her refusal to sign up for the $40K fee.

Her position is that she simply does not want to do it, and the money is no compensation.  He makes a living doing global marketing of football boots, and is centrally concerned with bringing in enough money.  It’s not so much that he thinks she’s making the wrong choice; he cannot understand there there is even a choice for her in whether to sign or not.  The writer’s position, though, is that there are other things to take into account beyond money, or even the breakthrough that this might lead to.  So she completely embodies the idea that people can choose not to go onwards and upwards, but follow a different path of development and growth.

This is exactly PP5.  Of course it raises intriguing philosophical challenges to do with how far we are able to choose, and the constraints that operate on us all, and especially on women.  But other than in circumstances of total subjection – and even then – people have continually shown that they can exercise choice.  And in the context of careers and how women and men view them, there is probably much more choice available than most of us think.  It’s women like the writer who demonstrate it.

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