It is said that a number of things contribute to the writing of a literary piece, be it personal experience, the author’s feeling and even his or her random thoughts. The idea to write this play actually came from a letter that I received. It’s not easy to explain why I chose a play above all the other literary genres only that its ‘natural’ constraints and conventions actually add to the overall ‘story’ that I am telling. Furthermore, it helps a lot when you ‘feel’ for the piece that you are writing which makes this play a very personal experience for me.

Writing a play involves a different line of thinking than say, the writing of a short story or a poem. The author has to deeply understand the characters, express deeper meanings and play on the emotions of the audience (this play is written to be performed). Notice that I have left many gaps and hints in this play as well as recurring motives to engage the audience personally as well as forcing the audience to think.

The tryst

One of the major problems I encountered while writing ‘The Tryst’ was actually  giving the play its name. After a lot of thinking and dictionary consulting, ‘The Tryst’ was finally chosen as it captures the whole essence of the play being an archaic word which means a place or a time for a meeting.

Another problem was actually choosing the literary genre. Initially I wanted to write a short story but it seems that the subject matter that I tried to convey is limited by the conventions of this genre. After some thoughts, I chose to write a play. However, actually writing the play is a problem as I had to think about the stage, the mood, the background, the characters and other aspects that actually make a play as such.

By the time I had a rough draft, I had changed the play a few times. I finally decided on only two main protagonists and chose to make them anonymous as seen in the play. No names whatsoever were found in the play. I also wanted to make the play as true to normal speech as possible and this is seen in the ellipsis of certain words in most of the sentences. Repetitions for example are prominent features in real speech that I have integrated into the play something that I have learned from the works of Arthur Miller in his play, ‘Death of a Salesman’ and ‘The Crucible’, and not forgetting the concise and short writing style of Harold Pinter.

The structure of ‘The Tryst’ is meant to be complex. Important points are left out for the audience to fill in, following the style of Dylan Thomas’s play ‘Under Milk Wood’. To an extent, the play is left ‘blank’ for different interpretations to be made based on the acting out of the play. The actor and actress must try to feel for two  anonymous characters and use their imagination to bring them to life.

After the final draft of the play was prepared, comes the laborious task of editing the play for errors in spelling or tense for example. Together with a colleague, we proof-read the play and picked out some mistakes. This helped the finished play to have a more tight structure and to be better overall.

In the final stages of writing the play, I actually acted it out with a colleague. Some things had to be added together with correcting some mistakes that were unseen earlier. This was added at the last stages particularly to the setting and also to the spoken lines.

This play revolves around several themes. There is no main theme as such but all the themes are important in the play. Some of the more prominent themes are love, regret, deception, selfishness, change, growth and even life itself. The actual play is about two ex-lovers who meet after 23 years. They were torn apart by the birth of their illegitimate daughter and went to live separate lives. This play is about them, their feelings and their memories.

To understand ‘The Tryst’, the audience must look at the recurring themes, speech and words. This are all intentionally written and the audience should keep that in mind while watching the play. Recurring motives help with the audience understanding of the play before the conclusion. The play is ended abruptly just like it was started with no hints on what was to happen next. Like all things in the play, it is ultimately for the audience to decide…

Airil Haimi Mohd Adnan
University of Warwick