Jez Butterworth

May 18, 2012 2:07 pm

What can be said of Jez Butterworth? I was fortunate enough to sit through an interview with him and I can tell you that he is a genuine, optimistic and easy-going writer. There is no drama to him as a person. If anything, he is inspiring.  For those of you who are unfamiliar, Mr Butterworth is the writer of the hugely acclaimed play ‘Jerusalem’ and if you didn’t get to see it then I am sorry to say, you missed out.

But you won’t miss out on the advice he gave.

Here, I will highlight the things that he said that struck me as being useful to the rest of us who are just starting out.  One thing he stressed was that regardless of how you want to get into the industry, whether it be as a writer, director, producer or actor, find yourself a base, a theatre to call home. Attach yourself to one, and before you know, opportunities will arise and you’ll find access to events that can lead you to places. Jez Butterworth started out at The Royal Court Theatre in London.

Continuing on that point, Butterworth suggested that if you do not have access to a theatre to display your work, form one. Form a social group of likeminded people and before you know it you are off performing your work to an audience. It doesn’t matter what shape or size the theatre or group is, so long as there is one. It could even be a one man show.

Another valuable point was, not to pay any attention to negative criticism. But pay attention to criticism.  In his own words, in regards to negative criticism ‘I don’t see the point’. Only look for advice that aims to make you better, not essays that ridicule you.

Furthermore, and this was perhaps his most honest advice of the day, Butterworth said that all you need to do is to back yourself 51%. Unlike others who might suggest 100%, 51% sounds more realistic and is perhaps more achievable. We know what it feels like when we have to prove ourselves to others. And it is hard to muster that 100% of belief and support. There is always that little doubt and in Butterworth’s case that is 49% worth. That sounds real to me.  But if you can mange that extra 1% then you are on your way, with little disappointment. I think I can manage that extra 1%.

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