Writing ‘Master Class’ is a biography of David Pownall’s play, Master Class (1983), from conception to coming of age.
Threaded through the account of the inception and development of the piece are twists of authorial life-story necessary for the telling. Whereas a novel or poem can be kept a secret until it is properly finished, a play has to go out to meet the people early. On the day the script is put into the hands of actors, the soul of the thing passes out of the author's control. It can be bent, battered, warped – or improved within its being far beyond expectations. As a drama of dictatorship in art and the cleverness needed to evade its worst manifestations, Master Class has been at large for thirty years, produced in twenty countries, in some several times. What has been done to it, how it has fared, is touched upon but the main story in this book is the making of the piece. A fascinating insight into the playwright’s craft.