Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Scenario Practice & The Baltimore Waltz

EQ: What is a scenario? How does a playwright create a scenario? How does a playwright use research to help build a scene or play? How do we build our plays to be more dynamic?

LAB: last class you brainstormed some themes or topics for a play your group thinks would be important subject matter for a play. You began to outline your group's idea and shared your idea with the class.

Today, take your idea and conduct some research in the lab. Gather information that you might use to frame or include in a scenario for your play idea.

NOTE: you are working alone on this, although your original idea was from a group effort. The idea is that you conduct your own research as practice and design the play as you deem fit.

A scenario is a playwright's blueprint of his/her story. It includes:

  • The working title
  • A cast list of characters (with names)
  • A basic outline describing your various scenes or acts
  • A description of the setting: time, place, (season/weather)
  • An idea of the major theme(s) the writer will be working with
  • A premise (this play is going to be about...)

If, after your research surrounding your topic, and your scenario writing, if you like your idea, you may begin writing this play as part of your longer play project.

Period 2: Please join us next door to begin reading The Baltimore Waltz by Paula Vogel.

Most plays begin with an EVENT: a unique and significant moment in a character's life (or characters lives). In plays all scenes should be thought of as "events".

Events can be almost anything: an unusual incident, a special occasion, a sudden visit, or any kind of crisis.

An event that starts off the play is called the inciting incident: the point of attack, the turning point in the life of one or more of your characters. Some playwrights call this moment the "disturbance". Whatever term you choose, you want to start off your story with a strong reason for the events in the play to occur. As the play continues (particularly in plays with more than one scene) more events may occur in a story. The inciting incident is the first one.

protagonist usually confronts the inciting incident from a position of weaker power or disadvantage. Starting with a protagonist who has all his stuff together, who can easily defeat or solve a problem, makes for a boring play.

The beginning of a play ends when the protagonist(s) make(s) a major decision. This major decision should set him or her or them on a collision course with forces that will oppose and perhaps destroy him/her (aka: antagonist). This should be a decision. A decision to act, a decision that causes the antagonist to confront the protagonist, etc. A major decision makes a protagonist active in the plot.

The inciting incident and the major decision help to create the MAJOR DRAMATIC QUESTION: MDQ. The MDQ is, as stated earlier, the question that keeps an audience interested in the plot of your play. The MDQ is also attached to your overall theme. For example: MDQ: will action (and therefore revenge) be possible for Hamlet?

The middle of a play is fraught with a series of obstacles (rising action). During the middle, you need to pay attention to the 3 C's: conflict, crisis, and complication. These 3 C's will lead to the dark moment of your play (more on that later).

Conflict can be person vs. person (often true in plays), person vs. self (also common), person vs. society (common as well if done correctly), and person vs. nature (God, etc.) (not as great, but some plays do this one perfectly.) The more interesting the conflict the more interesting the play. Crises and complications cause the conflict to be more interesting. The crises is a critical moment--a place in time for the protagonist to act, make a decision--that usually has consequences. Complications are problems (usually unforeseen) that arise to thwart or challenge the protagonist.

As you read the play the Baltimore Waltz please note the event, the inciting incident, the protagonist, major decision, the MDQ, the conflict, crisis, and complications in your notes.

HOMEWORK: None. You may begin to write a scene from your research if you'd like.

No comments:

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...