Playwriting

Observation In Action

This past weekend I participated in the Uth Ink program. Uth Ink combines youth with playwriting and community. This is something I feel quite strongly about and was pleased to take part. Anything that gets teens writing is OK by me.

My job was to provide a day long workshop exploring how one can be inspired to write about their community, and more specifically a physical connection to a place within that community. Then, provide the tools to take that inspiration and connection and dramatize it.

Fun stuff. It was a great experience.

My favourite exercise was the walk about. This is a standard exercise in the Uth Ink Program and is a perfect example of how to use observation as a path to finding subject matter. I always talk about observation as the playwright’s best friend when I teach playwriting!

We walked up and down the main drag of the town, a very familiar street. The purpose of the walkabout was to see that street through writer’s eyes. To notice something never seen before. To look up (how many of us look up at the tops of buildings when we walk down the street?). To pay attention to the five senses as we walked. To write down every thing that seemed strange. To notice every contradiction.

Our favourite contradiction was a storefront with a huge hole in the pane of glass. It looked like someone had punched the glass in anger. And then right above, beautiful stained glass trim. So delicate and fragile.

I also liked the divorce attorney over the Pizza Pizza. Do divorce and pizza go hand in hand? I don’t know…

It was a cold day and we managed to stay out for almost an hour, walking slowly, sharing observations, sharing stories.

When we returned to the warmth of the workshop location it was a thrill to see the writing come so easily. Observation turned to inspiration.

Over the next couple of months I’ll be reading drafts of the plays that came out of the workshop. The final products will be recorded and then available for the public to listen to by phone or website. Can’t wait to see what gets created.

About the author

Lindsay Price