Steve Walker Radio Plays

The following extracts are taken from a conversation between Emon Hassan and Steve Walker which is given in full on Emon's website, www.theatre.hassberry.com., and are reproduced by permission.

How is your writing different from other writers of radio? Was it a conscious choice to be different?

SW - My radio writing is generally acknowledged to be in a class of its own. It sounds different; the actors perform differently, and mostly they are about different things. Partly this is because I am an artist and use the invisible space of radio to draw things: people, spaces, but principally ideas.

As for consciously choosing to be different, I don't believe this question works as a question because I don't think anyone can try to be different if they are not different to start with. But certainly, I have always been resistant to compromise, and compromise is the process by which writers who are different are trained to be the same as each other and everyone else.

Is radio your favourite medium of choice for writing?

SW- No, I am painfully aware of the possibilities of radio drama to achieve things way beyond where I have already been, and because I have a knack for radio I feel a responsibility to do this. But my poetry and drawings come first, simply because I am freer there to search and find. This is not an inherent criticism of radioas a medium, just my attitude to it as a public and not a private art. I would feel differently....creating plays myself, without the help of radio stations, actors or the commissioning process, to improvise and reach. I have written nearly 50 radio plays, but radio is only 1% of my work as a whole. But it is important. I have said things in radio that I could not have said elsewhere. It is a very important medium for me, and I am keen to do more.

Whatís your writing routine like? What would you do if an idea for a painting, cartoon or, letís say, a play occur to you at the exact same time?

SW:- I donít have a routine, not a day-to-day one. I adapt to whatever piece of work I am doing. In the 90s I wrote a broadcast play or an episode of a TV or radio show every two weeks for the whole decade and more. This often meant an astonishing swiftness was required. Most radio plays, even the 90-minute ones, were written at a sitting. This was part of the intensity. I am always developing, thinking about, researching diverse projects at the same time, but they are always separate and never bleed into each other because they each have their own particular consciousness. An idea FOR a painting, cartoon, play cannot occur at the same time, because for me ideas are not FOR, but are applied. I do sometimes sit down to write a poem and draw it instead or stop drawing to write a story, which comes out of the character or situation, without me thinking I am crossing categories at all. My cartoon captions are poems without stopping being captions. The categorization of works into genres is not recognized by my mind and I donít force it to do so: categorization comes later, it is a selling tool, a device of capitalism, and creation without this is where the real value and values should be.

Thanks Emon, for your permission to use this material. For the full interview, see Emon's website.


SW's JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH - repeated in late 2004 on BBC7.

compiled by Nigel Deacon / Diversity website

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