Friday, January 24, 2014

Final Playwriting Class

Well, we've reached the end of this course. Today, please complete your one-act play project and turn these in. Remember to proofread your work before printing!

Good luck on your other assessments and mid-terms next week.

The good news is that the skills you have gained in playwriting will help you when writing film scripts next semester. In your fiction writing, hopefully, you can apply the dramatic structures covered in this course to strengthen your characters, plots, and conflicts. Writers of fiction should also benefit from the use of dialogue, as this is one of the harder skills for many writers.

As a final recap, if you complete your play today and have some time, take a look at these videos. Otherwise, take a look at them next week or when you're wondering why you are a writer...
Don't fret. You will be able to continue your playwriting next year in Writing Across Cultures if you miss it. Also, the Geva Playwriting Contest is coming up, so don't forget to enter! Our playwrights festival is scheduled for June 7.

HOMEWORK: None. If you have any missing work, please get it turned in.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Final Exam

After your final exam, please return to the lab to continue working on your play projects. Your final draft of your one-act play script is due Friday.

HOMEWORK: Complete your script projects.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Play Script Project & Final Exam

Next week we will be taking our Final Exam NYS Assessment for this course. Please review the following items:

All items can be found in the reading or chapter handouts, the blog, eLearning, the internet and your own notes (if you took any).

The Final Exam for Playwriting may cover any or all of the following items, please review:

The plays & playwrights: 
Jane Martin: Talking With
John Leguzamo: Spic-o-Rama
Ntozake Shange: For Colored Girls...Enuf
Eve Ensler: The Vagina Monologues
Dael Orlandersmith: Monster
James Cameron Mitchell: Hedwig & the Angry Inch
Aeschylus: Prometheus Bound
Euripides: The Bacchae
William Shakespeare: Titus Andronicus
Henrik Ibsen: Hedda Gabler
Anton Chekhov: The Seagull
August Strindberg: Miss Julie
George Bernard Shaw: Major Barbara
George S. Kaufman: If Men Played Cards as Women Do
Tennessee Williams: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Proper script format
How to create characters/characterization
Techniques to motivate and gather ideas

Play Vocabulary:
Premise: a deeply held belief by the playwright which shapes a script.

From handout: chp. 3 'Structure: Part One, story and plot':
  • Aristotle's six elements of plays: plot, character, diction (dialogue), thought (theme), spectacle, song/music
  • Conflict
  • Structural Unity: all parts of the plot (exposition, rising action, turning point, climax, resolution, etc.) should work and fit together.
  • Inciting Incident: the point of attack, the inciting incident forces the protagonist into the action of the play's plot.
  • Major Dramatic Question (MDQ): the hook that keeps an audience interested in a play; a dramatic question that a reader/viewer wants answered.
  • Major decision: A decision a character makes in the plot that creates the turning point for their character.
  • The three C's: Conflict, crisis, complication: obstacles characters must face for an interesting and dramatic plot.
  • Rising Action
  • The dark moment/crisis: the lowest moment of a character's struggle--when all the world seems lost, the fight unbeatable, the "darkest hour before dawn" -- a stunning reversal of fortune and sense of failure.
  • Deus ex machina: a contrived ending. Often one in which the characters did not have a hand in solving. (It is more interesting to see a character deal with their own problems rather than an outside force solving it for them.) literally, a "god from a machine"
  • Enlightenment: When the protagonist understands how to defeat the antagonist. A revelation that begins the movement toward a climax.
  • Climax
  • Catharsis
Ten minute play format
One act plays
Full length plays (2, 3, 4, or 5 act)
Commedia d'ell Arte (eLearning)
Generating ideas for plays (from handout & blog; eLearning)
Absurdism (eLearning)
Constantin Stanislavski
Moscow Art Theatre
From Handout: 'Structure, Part two: creativity, scenario, & writing'
  • The Event: a uniquely significant moment in the character's lives
  • Time lock: setting up a time limit or specific deadline characters have to meet in order to spur them into action (for example having a script project due...)
  • French scenes
  • Place & setting
  • Theme
  • Scenario: an outline for a writer to identify major/minor characters, plot, and setting used BEFORE writing a script
  • Catalyst: the event in the play that causes a character to take action
  • Positive Motivation
  • Character flaw
  • need vs. desire
  • Creating credible characters
  • Protagonist
  • Antagonist
  • Subtext: what is not said in a character's line. The subtext are the subtle details or clues used by the actor to develop their character.
  • Beat: a short exchange of dialogue
  • Backstory
  • A Confidant: a character the protagonist or antagonist can talk with to reveal necessary backstory
  • Verisimilitude: the semblance of truth in characters and setting. "a king should act like a king, not a foul-mouthed beggar."
The Building Blocks of Dialogue
Dialogue (tips and advice) (blog, eLearning)
Theatrical genres: realism, modernism, absurdism, symbolism, sentimental comedy, naturalism, romanticism, expressionism, Elizabethan, Neoclassicism, tragedy, comedy, etc. (blog, notes, eLearning)
Play development & workshopping a play (blog, eLearning)
Writing and rewriting a script (advice) (blog, eLearning)

Play Project
Please continue working on your play script projects. Use the time in the lab to make progress and work with your workshop groups on various final projects.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Play Script Project

Please continue working on your play script projects. Use the time in the lab to make progress and work with your workshop groups on various final projects.


Sunday, January 12, 2014

One Act Play Project

Please work on your play project in the lab. If you need help with tips about how to write dialogue, the proper format for a play script, building or developing characters through characterization, or plotting, you may log on to eLearning and check out Module 3. There are plenty of resources for you to use if you get stuck, from finding the motivation to write, to completing a script project.

You may use your workshop groups to help you, and, of course, I will be here too.

Get writing!


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Final One Act Play Project

This morning, please get into the following workshop groups and conduct a workshop where you and your partners read each others play scripts. Students who are turning in their scripts from our last project (Dec. 20) should do so in the first 5 minutes of class today. 
Group 1: Frances, Taina, Carly, Thiery, Ben, BrandenGroup 2: Gena, Nicole, Ethan, Nathan, Kayli, GraceGroup 3: Imani, Imani, Diamond, Jahni, Shayozinique, Khamphasong
For each play submitted to the workshop, please complete a "scoring rubric" and fill in a paragraph of written comments examining the play's premise, major dramatic question, inciting incident, rising action, complication, crisis, dark moment, enlightenment, climax, resolution, character motive, character subtext, imagery, effectiveness of dialogue, development or characterization of character(s), relevant theme, message, setting, staging, effective/non-effective theatrical techniques, etc.

Please turn in your critique sheets for participation credit.

During period 2, please gather in room 238 to discuss the Final One Act Play Project.

1. Brainstorm premises
2. Consider characters/settings
3. Consider theme and message
4. Plan scenes/storyboarding
5. Research
6. Create a writing activity (like the one below as an example) for your workshop group

Sample Writing Activity:
Model: 1. Choose a playwright we've read and follow his/her tradition. For example, August Wilson often uses history as a thematic element in his dramas. 
2. Brainstorm historical settings that you find interesting.
From your list select the one (or few--yes, you can combine time periods as you need to) that you feel has the most creativity, the most relevance to our society today, or the one that most intrigues you.

3. Spend some time examining the internet for information about your historical period. Do this relatively quickly, but take notes and begin thinking of potential plots or significant events that happened at that place and time or people who lived during that time period. Use your notes and brainstorming to PLAN your story a bit before you just right in and write, then get stuck and bother your neighbor. Fill out the notesheet for participation credit. Hand in at the end of class. 
4. After your brainstorming period, decide on a few characters. Write brief descriptions of who these people might be. Start with the most interesting major character and work your way from there. Don't worry about incidental or minor characters yet.  
Marking period 3 Final Project:

What is it? 
A one-act (or full length) play or two 10-minute plays

Decide on the scope of your play. If you think you have enough material for a one act (equivalent to two ten-minute plays or about 20-30 pages of script text, including cover page), then decide to write a one-act play. If you feel you have two separate ideas OR you feel the idea you have for your play is smaller in scope, choose to write two ten-minute plays. Each play will count as your marking period grade. 

When is it due?
January 24.

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...