Friday, October 30, 2009

Sketch & The House of Blue Leaves

Short Sketch - Writing Exercise

1) Choose a setting. Avoid common set-ups. Think creatively. Only set the sketch in one location. Adhere to the UNITY OF PLACE.
2) Don't make the sketch too long. 2-3 pages is a good length to start with (of course, in proper script format).
3) If you're trying to sell your material, don't put in anything too expensive like a helicopter. Most TV shows, films, and theatres are on a tight budget.
4) Three characters is more than enough for a short sketch. Don't write for a cast of thousands.
5) Work out loud. Say the lines as you write them. You need to hear what the material sounds like.
6) Think about what is happening visually as well as the words. Describe the physical action in detail where appropriate, but don't get bogged down with description. This is a play script, not a film script. Before you begin, it is often helpful to describe your characters and setting (so you don't have to do that later in the scene where it's awkward). What are the characters wearing? What do they look like. What are their names?

Types of Sketches

To help you get going, here's a few tried and tested comedy formats for sketches.
1) Escalation: Funny idea starts small and gets bigger and bigger, ending in chaos of ridiculous proportions. See Monty Python's Crunchy Frog sketch.
2) Lists: Sketches in which the bulk of the dialogue is a long list of funny items. The best example of this is "Cheese Shop" in Monty Python. (You can find all the Python sketches at Note this kind of sketch will be a little longer in length, due to the short list form.
3) Mad Man, Sane Man: This format speaks for itself, but don't go for obvious settings. Here's an example Self Defense Class.
Here's one that includes all the three types in one: Monty Python.

At the end of period 1, we will be getting a new play: John Guare's House of Blue Leaves. Please begin reading this play in groups of 3-4. Please complete this play for HOMEWORK and complete the assignment below in writing. Note that we will not have class until Wednesday of next week.

HOMEWORK (to turn in): As you read please try to notice the following techniques used by Guare. For each technique, explain how Guare uses it in the play (and what page you found the supporting information):
--The Time Lock. (pg. 83)
--The Trap. (pg. 84)
--Offstage Action (pg. 84-85)
--Answering a dramatic question with a dramatic question. (85)
--Interruption. (85)
--Foreshadowing. (86)

2. Farce relies on physical comedy, confusion, mistaken identity, and lots of action. Explain how Guare's play may be considered a "farce".

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