Wednesday, August 28, 2019


Welcome back, class of 2021! I hope you all had a restful and enjoyable summer!

Image result for playwritingHere 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, allow you to examine the use of conflict in your plots, allow you to play and experiment with language and poetry, as well as make you a better psychologist (dealing with people in crisis)!

All the while we will be 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 or film scripts. It's a small world, after all.

Anyway, after our break out groups, 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 and I'll explain the cell phone procedure thing.

For now, let's get started by going to one of the 3 "work sites" or "group discussion areas". In small groups of 5-6 please gather at 1 of the 3 labeled stations. We'll rotate from there to the next station about every 10 minutes. At your station, please complete the short assignment for that station.
  • Station 1 is your course criteria. Information about the class and procedures can be found here. Please complete the following:
    • Read the course criteria. If you have any questions about the course or its procedures, please jot down a yellow sticky note with your question. I will attempt to answer these.
    • Take, read & study the theater vocabulary handout. You'll need this during the course. Familiarize yourself with some of the key terminologies we will be using.
    • Peruse the baseline writing instructions. We'll get to this task/assignment in a little while.
  • Station 2 is a "classroom contract." Consider how you want this class to be run. What might make the course more helpful or useful to you with your education goals? Create a "manifesto" of writing goals for the year. Please turn this manifesto in by the end of class today for participation credit.
  • Station 3 is a brainstorming site to collect contemporary issues/themes and subjects you might wish to use for ideas about what to write. Please do the following:
    • On the 11x17" paper list some contemporary issues/themes that you can think of. Consider stories/novels you've read, other plays, films or TV programs you've seen (what were their themes/issues?) Ex. coming of age, betrayal, redemption, falling in love, being true to oneself, honesty, etc.
    • Pick up a Fringe Festival catalog (they're yours to keep) and read the summary of some of the plays being produced this year. Note the ones that sound interesting or that might make a good stage play. These play/performance summaries might give you some ideas for your baseline activity.


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.

Generally, we will use a Google Classroom to submit your assignments. Assignments that can be turned in digitally (no printing!) will be posted on the Google Classroom site. Go there now ( and enter this code: 4imvn7

Make sure that when you are in class using a Chromebook that you do the following EACH DAY:
  • Log in. 
  • Open a TAB and go to our classroom BLOG:
  • Open a SECOND TAB and go to GOOGLE CLASSROOM:, etc.
  • Keep both TABS open during class or as instructed. It's also a good idea to open a THIRD TAB in Google to take class notes (or write class notes by hand if you prefer...) 
  • When using headphones (only as instructed please!) please make sure you have only one ear bud in your ear at any time. Lower volume so that only you can hear what is being played. 
  • Cell phones should be put away at 7:30. If you need to use them for a class assignment, I will instruct you. Otherwise, put them away. Just a reminder that the hallway is not the place to use your cell phone either. Only use the pass for emergencies, please.
  • After each class period, please plug your Chromebooks back into the cabinet. Make sure the Chrome symbol is at the top of the slot and plug in your laptop. Do NOT leave computers on your desk or in elsewhere in the room. You may not take them home either. They remain in the classroom for all scheduled classes to use. 
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 and in Google Classroom, 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 the same, let's begin playwriting with a baseline writing exercise.

You will need a Chromebook (or use the essay paper provided...). Log on and sign up for our Google Classroom. The assignment is available there. Open it and begin writing. This assignment will be due by the end of class (or collected late--penalty applies--by next class.)
  • 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. Remember to give your "scene" a working title. 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.
  • 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 The Colored Museum by George C. Wolfe. It's a good idea to start with the second or third monologue or scene 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 The Colored Museum in small groups.
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HOMEWORK: #1 - Complete The Colored Museum by George C. Wolfe. As you read the monologues and scenes, pay close attention to how language and conflict within the monologues or scenes help to develop character and comment on important themes (such as identity, self-worth, race, freedom, etc.) Bring the play script with you to our next class (Friday) for a discussion of the play. 

#2: Please share the course criteria sheet with your parents/guardians. 

#3: If you did not complete your scene and need more time to do so, please complete your baseline scene and submit it before next class begins. Your work will count as late (unless you were absent today) but the late penalty is not severe.

Have a nice day--and welcome back!

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