Monday, December 21, 2020

The Roots of Action (Getting Your Story Moving!)

Starting with your play's outline (if you haven't completed this step, please do so before attempting this exercise...!), consider at what point you want to start your story. When should the lights come up on the action of your play?

Where a scene starts reflects what has gone on BEFORE the lights come up. What exists HERE and NOW as a result of past action and past circumstances of your characters? Think about the recent backstory of your characters just before the lights come up on stage. 1. What have your characters been doing? 2. What do they know of believe now at this moment as a result of what events or actions happened in the recent past? 3. How do your characters feel NOW? 4. What are your characters relationships with one another? How will that be explained or expressed on stage? Our actions are often revealed by our CIRCUMSTANCES at any given moment. These circumstances are the roots of action for a scene. Circumstances can be physical, psychological, social, economic, or political. In Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, for example, George & Martha have just arrived home from a party that Martha's father threw in honor of a new faculty member at the college. We learn quickly that Martha has invited them over for more drinks and that it is very late, and both George & Martha are drunk (Martha) and/or tired (George). These are physical circumstances that begin the play. But there are also psychological circumstances, that are also social and political. Martha is upset that George doesn't "mix" at parties and has not risen to the position of heading his department at the college. George has a dislike for his father-in-law (reasons for which become clear later in the play). As the play begins, the audience witnesses the tension in the relationship between George & Martha. The arrival of Honey and Nick only exasperate the situation. For each of your characters, consider what their circumstances are just before they arrive on stage. What pressures, problems, concerns, or feelings do they have about what they have just encountered? This is often a good time to bring them on stage and get your scene moving along with tension and conflict ready to explode. To begin your play, know the circumstances that contribute to your character's pasts. Knowing your character's circumstances can fuel the dramatic energy of your scene. Today, work on starting your play.

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