Playwriting

Explore the Senses

Photo by Rina Castelnuovo for the New York Times

Photo by Rina Castelnuovo for the New York Times

When I talk to students about writing in an imagistic and specific manner, I always talk about using the senses. Observe this room and describe it using all five senses. The senses are immediate, they create a visual, a connection between the writing and the audience. If you describe a room as smelling like a wet dog, everyone knows what you’re talking about.

This piece in the New York Times is about a deaf and blind theatre group called Nalagaat from Israel. Although the actors do not have two of their five senses, their work brings the remaining three to life: taste, touch and smell. They make bread during the show.

What a unique way to experience theatre, and yet it makes total sense. We so often rely simply on our sight and our hearing, can you imagine a theatrical experience where those were taken away? It’s a wonderful read and really makes me think about how limit ourselves theatrically when it comes to the senses.

Think about how you can put together a scene in which you only have taste, touch and smell at your disposal to communicate to an audience. What would you do?

About the author

Lindsay Price