Monday, August 28, 2017

Welcome, Class of 2019!

Welcome back, class of 2019! I hope you all had a restful and enjoyable summer.

Here we are again. This year is partly devoted to writing scripts (both theatrical and for the screen). What you learn here can help you improve your fiction "dialogue" skills, examine the use of conflict in your plots, play and experiment with language and poetry, as well as make you a better psychologist (dealing with people in crisis), all the while honing your writer's craft and developing your writer's voice. The other half of your year will focus on contemporary writers--which should give you some good themes and ideas for your play scripts. It's a small world, after all.

Anyway, after reviewing our course criteria, we will get started with a required writing activity, read a bit, and start on a couple of assignments to begin this course. By the end of class today, we'll get our locker assignments.


Check this blog each class period for agendas, deadlines, educational information, advice, and a whole lot of links to enhance your education. All you have to do is read and click. You are responsible for reading and interacting with the material I post on the blog. It is a useful resource for the course (since we don't have a specific textbook)--so please use it. You can even see it on your cell phones (which you shouldn't have with you during class...)

If you're absent or missed something in class, please check the blog to get caught up. As indicated above, each new class period usually includes a new post. If you have a question about an assignment and are too embarrassed to speak to me in public (or you have a question that you think you will forget to ask), feel free to use the comment section. It is, however, your responsibility to talk to me about your needs. This is your education. Make it worthwhile.

On our link page, you will also find some useful tools for this course. During the course, I will direct your attention to these tools for your use in this class and for use in Contemporary Writers.

Today, after reading about the course, checking the theater vocab sheet & advice, and answering any questions regarding same, let's begin playwriting with a baseline writing exercise.

You will need a notebook, the essay paper/booklet provided, and a writing utensil.
  • The task is simple. You have 30 minutes to write a complete scene (with a definite beginning, middle, and end) in script format as you remember it. Note that "scenes" are not full plays. You don't need to wrap up every detail and plot hole. But your scene should begin, sustain conflict a bit, and ultimately end.
  • Limit your cast of characters to no more than four (4). Two or three (2-3) characters works best. You must have more than one. Setting, plot, writing style, and theme is completely up to you. Have at it. 
  • Be creative. Focus on the task of writing. Let your words flow from you without a lot of editing or over thinking this exercise. Stay off your neighbor's radar. You'll have time to chat later in class. Don't spend your writing time talking or going to sleep. Wake up and write! Also: trust your instincts as an artist and writer! Let's get back into practice.
  • If you need a prompt, choose one of the following starters (or make up one of your own by combining any 3 things):  
    •  A lawyer, a local politician or minor celebrity, and a contract
    •  A widow, her half-sister, and a secret 
    •  One character walks in to a familiar place but meets someone unexpected
  • You will have about 30 minutes to write. If you get stuck, unstick. Review the handout, etc. Timer will now be set. And...Go!
If you happen to finish your scene early and the rest of the class is still writing, please begin reading Talking With by Jane Martin. It's a good idea to start with the last monologue first, as you will likely read the first monologue and subsequent pages in order with your group.

After we write our baseline, we'll receive our locker assignments, then return and get started reading Talking With in small groups.
HOMEWORK: #1 - Complete Talking With by Jane Martin. As you read the monologues, pay close attention to how language and conflict within the monologues help to develop character. Bring the play script with you to our next class (Friday) for a discussion of the play. 

#2: Please share the course criteria sheet and field trip forms, etc. with your parents/guardians.  Get them signed and return them to me. 

Have a nice day!

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