Many people would contend that you can’t be in love with two people at the same time. So how come I find myself torn between the two great loves of my life: Mr. Literature and Mr. Theatre? And why is it that I routinely feel the need to choose either/or, when the two should be perfectly happy to co-exist?
Drama and Literature, one would believe, are not worlds apart. It’s not like I have to reconcile an interest in, say, Theatre and Medicine (although sudden visions of a new show has entered my mind!). I never thought I would feel a sense of disloyalty to one or the other but increasingly this has become the case.
Literature enthusiasts tend to look down their noses at drama enthusiasts and vice versa. The Literati tend to believe in the virtues of the written word whilst drama privileges the spoken word and with their heads firmly nestled in their books, fail to take seriously their theatrical counterparts who are neck deep in the clouds. From the opposite perspective, drama lovers, high on their perch of big and practical ideas, don’t see much point in spending all this time reading and writing unless you are going to create something out of it.
This schizophrenic aspect of myself was further illuminated in the attitude I was met with by the staff in both the English and Drama departments at my university. When registering for my modules in the English Department, my tutor looked down at my Joint Honours form and emitted a low laugh and ‘reassured’ me, “At least half your course will be quality”. A little disheartened but still in good humour I plodded along to the Drama Department, where the description of myself as literary was subject to a distinctly pejorative inflection. Prior to this, I also had an interview for a Single Honours Drama course and after stating my love of literature, was immediately rejected a place. The reason I was given was that I had ‘made my loyalties clear’.
Today, matters have become worse as I sort my hefty tomes onto a new bookcase; I don’t have enough room for everything I own and after much deliberation, my plays and theatre books remain in a box under my bed – a kiss before bed seems inadequate compensation. In choosing to further study Literature, I feel like I am cheating. Short of inviting my lovers to go on daytime TV and taking a loyalty lie detector test on ‘Ménage à Trois Monday’ – what am I to do?!
To confuse matters more a ‘Literature & Storytelling’ section has appeared on the programme of my local arts centre. I went to see a solo performance under this banner and left thinking – ‘That was theatre, surely?’ I don’t want my love of both to relegate me to the reading of only plays and a theatre purely of adaptation. At present, I want the best of both and I don’t see why I should have to choose.