This playwriting exercise is inspired by a recent This American Life I listened to.
The corespondents for the show travelled to 9 counties in Georgia where their task was to ask the question “Who is the most interesting person in town?’ It was fascinating to hear the different stories, knowing that they’d normally never be heard or told outside of that particular town. What further made the stories fascinating to me was that they were connected to a person. I’ve always believed that strong, interesting characters are the backbone of every great play.
The show instantly made me think about how hard a time some beginning writers have finding ideas. Try this exercise with your class.
- First, pick a person. The only rule is that it can’t be a class mate or someone your own age. Consider talking to a parent, a teacher, your boss, a neighbour, a family friend.
- Ask that person the question: ‘Who is the most interesting person you know?’ The answer could be someone they know currently, or someone they knew growing up.
- Get the basic details on this person: What do they look like? What did they sound like? The more you know, the more you’ll be able to visualize this person.
- Get the details on what makes this person interesting: is there a specific story related to this person? Is it their every day behaviour?
- Based on what you know, write a monologue in the voice of this person.
- Write down an idea for a play that centres around this character. It could be the story of why they are interesting, it could be that this person is just featured in your play.
Click here to read more on and listen to the original This American Life show.