Tuesday, November 30, 2010

One Act Play Script Due!

Today, please complete and turn in your one-act play scripts. This is a major assignment for this marking period. Please proofread and look over your work before you turn the script in for a grade as grammar and formatting will count.

If you finish early, please read any of the Christopher Durang plays you have not yet read. We will be getting a new script next class.

Advice about writing about comedy scripts

How to Publish a Play

10-Minute Play National Contest

Uptown #9 - 10 minute play

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

One-Act Play Script - Draft & Sister Mary Ignatius

Today please work toward an ending of your one-act plays. Your scripts are a draft and will be workshopped and revised. Plays should be longer than a 10-minute play script (about double or triple) and include at least 2-scenes. If you finish today, please print and turn in your draft. Check your proper play script formatting first!

Play drafts are due Tuesday, Nov. 30, so if you don't finish today, please take the script file home with you and complete for next class.

HOMEWORK: Complete one-act play. Read: Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You. This play (although it doesn't have conventional scene breaks) can be broken into three distinct parts. As you read or watch, note where these scenes occur and how smooth the transition is between part one, two, and three of the play.

Sister Mary Ignatius - Part 1
Sister Mary Ignatius - Part 2
Sister Mary Ignatius - Part 3

Friday, November 19, 2010

Scene #2

Please work on scene #2 for your one-act plays. See previous posts for more details.

Homework: Please read The Nature and Purpose of the Universe (pp. 229) & the Actor's Nightmare (pp. 351) on your own.

The Actor's Nightmare - Part 1

The Actor's Nightmare - Part 2
The Actor's Nightmare - Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Durang's Titanic (Group Reading) & Scene #2

Please watch the following clip from the play Titanic.

Get into the following groups:

Group A: Tashae, Victoria, Justice, Jerry, Jenee, Ledibel, Monica

Group B: Alex, Valerie, Shayla, Marissa, Wade, Alaina, Addie

Group C: Khari, Zach, Aubrey, Whitney, Kennethea, Brianna, Nautica

Please read Durang's play Titanic. Each member of the group should play at least one role. As you read discuss the following:
1. Discuss the setting. How can lights and minimal set pieces be used effectively to keep the flow of action going from scene to scene.
2. Are there any scenes or characters that are not necessary or needed? Which ones? Why might they be included in the plot?
3. What seems to be Durang's theme or point?
4. If you were to write a Titanic play, what would you have done differently?

After reading and discussing, you will be asked to report out for the group.

With time remaining, please work on your one-act plays. Scene Two. See the blog entry below this one for instructions.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Durang's Death Comes to Us All & Adding a Scene

Today, after reading "Death Comes To Us All, Mary Agnes" by Christopher Durang, please do the following with your one-act play.

By now you have about 10 pages (a 10-minute play!) of your one-act. To make a traditional one-act longer, add another scene. This scene can change location if you want (but make sure that the new location works logistically with the first scene). Remember that when shifting setting do so ONLY if the action of the play requires it. Remember also that scenes can change time (keeping the same location).

1. Decide on a previous, parallel, or future scene for your play. The scene can occur before, during, or after the scene you have already written.
2. Include another new character(s) if you need one or them.
3. Keep your theme parallel. Each scene should focus on a similar or the same theme so that the plot compares or contrasts.
4. Write this new scene (3-7 pages).

Christopher Durang plays:
Hardy Boys and the Mystery of Where Babies Come From

The Original Funeral Parlor (with Carol Burnett & Robin Williams)
Funeral Parlor (amateur play)

DMV Tyrant

For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls (Part One)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

One Act Mini Workshop: Finding a Direction & Theme

Today during 1st period please complete the following task with a partner:

1. Read each others plays. Do not worry if the play has not yet been completed, but as a general guideline you should each have about 9-12 pages of script at this point.

2. You and your partner should exchange places while reading (you sit in his/her chair & computer, he/she sits in yours).

3. As you read your partner's play script, please note the following by adding INSERT COMMENTS from the INSERT menu:

A. Give your partner feedback about improper script format. If your partner is making mistakes, please notify him or her about that. Check for grammar mistakes as well.
B. As you read look for inconsistencies or problems with the script. If you have a question about what's going on, INSERT a comment letting your playwright partner know this.
C. Suggest additional scenes: 1. for the beginning or before the beginning of the play (pages 0-2), 1. for the middle of the play (pages 3-9), and 1. for the end of the play or after the play action (pages 8-12...etc.) YOU WILL HAVE MADE 3 SEPARATE SUGGESTIONS by the end of your editing/reviewing time.
D. Look for a theme. What is the main idea the playwright is examining (what is he/she saying about human life). If this is unclear, comment at the end of the script that you are wondering what the point or theme is of the play.

Done? Read your partner's comments about your play. Make changes where necessary. Keep writing the play.

2nd period: Class reading. Please check out Christopher Durang's 27 Collected Plays from the library. We'll read some of these in class for the next few classes. You may remember his play Mrs. Sorken and the One Minute plays.

Information about Christopher Durang.

HOMEWORK: (for Monday, Nov. 15) Please read the information about Christopher Durang. Get to know him a bit and then read any of the plays between pages: 53-228. Like him?, read many or all of these plays. Hate him, read a few more, then decide.

As you read Durang notice how he constructs his plays. Look closely at his dialogue. And, of course, enjoy. These plays are meant to be absurd and funny. Don't take them very seriously, although they often center around serious issues.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Play Structure & the One Act Play

A one act play centers around one main conflict. While you are more than welcome to mention or even present other issues, the short one act form needs to focus on a major idea and one major idea at that.

Today, please write monologues for each of your three characters. We need to know who these people are and why they're on stage. Use your skills at writing monologues to further develop your play. You may put your monologue ANYWHERE in the script.

TIP: monologues slow down the action. So you might want to use them where you want this sort of effect. For example, as a transition or near the beginning of a scene.

Done with your monologues? do the following:
1. Keep writing and developing your play scenes.
2. Identify your beginning (inciting incident) and climax (point of highest tension in your play). If you don't have one, build these into the script.
3. Tired of writing? Check out the blog entry below this one and get advice from other professionals concerning writing plays. There's even a short one act play in there somewhere.

Play Structure (intro):

Ever wonder about the spelling of playwright? Why not playwrite? Well, it's because a "wright" is someone who builds. The idea is that a playWRIGHT carefully constructs and builds a play. We craft plays, not just write them.

Way back in antiquity, Aristotle (that famous Greek philosopher) wrote a book called the poetics about how to write a play. He said that every play needs the following elements:
1. Plot
2. Character
3. Thought (by which he meant theme)
4. Spectacle (special effects, props, costumes, scenery, etc.)
5. Diction (effective dialogue)
6. Song (music)

Apart from #6, all plays usually include these things. But dialogue can be beautifully written and with enough imagery and detail can come close to song.

We know that a play needs conflict because all plays involve human struggle. That's what they are written to examine. A playwright is like a philosopher in that all effective plays (even the funny ones) deal with human struggle and use human themes to communicate the human condition. Plays are an attempt to understand some truth about humans and our world. Make sure your play speaks to this tradition.

Please turn in your homework ?'s concerning Structure, Scenario, & Writing

Thursday, November 4, 2010

One Act Play: Scene One (draft) & Play Structure

Today, please complete your scene draft. When you have completed your scene draft (see below), add another character and have that character enter.

Every time a character enters a scene this is a new FRENCH SCENE. French plays (Moliere) used this scene break style as opposed to single, well-defined scene breaks (like Shakespeare).

Continue your play with this new character interrupting and entering the scene. Try to add 2-5 pages with this new character interacting with your previous two characters.

NOTE: You may structure the timing of this scene any way you wish. If your previous scene is complete and you want to add the third character BEFORE that scene, feel free to do so. You can also find a place in your script where you interrupt the dialogue between your two characters with the third character.

HOMEWORK: Please read the article: Structure, Creativity, Scenario, & Writing. Answer the following questions (for homework to be turned in next class):
1. How can a writer avoid or work through 'writer's block'?
2. How can a playwright become more creative and use critical thinking?
3. What is a scenario? What use or help is a scenario to a writer?
5. When making a scene or french scene, what advice does the article give a young writer such as yourself?

Some key ideas: "Creative people look for options to increase the range of their choices."

"Writers write, whether we feel like it or not. We write whether we're inspired or not. We write whether we're in the mood to or not."

"Creativity may hit us at any time but, if we've been observant and thoughtful during the rest of our day, it's more likely to occur while we're actually putting thoughts down on paper." --William Downs & Robin Russin.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The One Act Play: Scene One

From your character bank please select two characters you would like to develop and use in a one-act play.

Most beginning playwrights start with short one-act plays. Usually these plays are anything between 15-minutes to about an hour long. In this way, the one-act is similar to a short story (not a short-short or sudden fiction) but has time to develop characters, perhaps in more than one scene, but usually consolidates time, setting, and number of characters. It generally deals with a single important action or incident in a character's life that is developed and examined through the play (as opposed to longer full length plays that have subplots). These plays are usually continuous in time, taking about the same amount of real time as the play takes to act. Theater companies usually produce more than one one-act at a time.

Some tips:
--Keep a single set (and try to keep the unity of time)
--Limit the number of characters (remember that small roles can be doubled, but this is not realistic so use it sparingly)
--Keeping your set and prop requirements simple is the key to being produced as an unknown playwright. Keep that in mind as you write.
--Remember your actors; make sure the part you are writing for them is interesting enough and compelling enough (this goes for the director as well).

Write a scene between 2-characters. Your scene should be at least 3 pages.

The Murky Middle (Even More Advice)

Aristotle wrote that stories should have a beginning, middle, and end. Middles can be difficult. You might have a smashing opening to a stor...