Playwriting

POW

Cool word of the day – Mendacity which means lying, untruthful. Divide the word in two and you have Menda City, which could refer to a whole lying community. There’s a play in there somewhere…

Finished off my last POW (playwriting online workshop) class today. I teach an online course that takes students from the idea stage to the second draft to a play. I work with a couple of schools who take the plays to the next step and perform play festivals which is awesome. It’s the one part of the process that I can’t see to fruition.

I enjoy reading student plays and have on more than on occasion been blown away by the quality of the scripts. It’s interesting to see their view of the world through their writing. And no matter what the temperment of the particular class, there’s always at least one student who makes it all worthwhile.

I find it hard to mark the work at times – I’m not interested in saying “you’re a good writer, you’re a bad writer.” I want them all to write. There’s something about putting their voice into an outside character that’s very powerful. I believe in the power of theatre. And sometimes the not so good writers show learning better than the talented writers.

I remember one play a couple of years ago that wasn’t great – it was very movie-like, not a lot of character definition, not a lot of interesting action. But then in the final weeks the student took one character and wrote this raw emotional monologue that literally had me jumping up and down in the office.

I had a student once tell me that playwriting was stupid and a waste of time. She wrote a play about a girl who got pregnant and decided to give up her baby. I later found out that the student was in a similar situation, she was pregnant and before the play was certain she was keeping the baby. After she wrote the play, she changed her mind.

The most common problem I see is students writing plays as if they were movies – quick cuts, huge sets, tiny scenes, things blowing up. The hardest thing to get across is convincing them what will work on a stage and what won’t. I try to get them to visualize their plays on a stage, to the point of suggesting they go stare at their own theatre stage and imagine how their play will look.

As the company gets busier I find that I have less time to take on classes and won’t be teaching as much in the upcoming year. This is both good (cause we’re busy) and bad because I like doing it.

About the author

Lindsay Price