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“Where are YOU in your writing?” workshop

January 16, 2013

There were eleven participants in tonight’s workshop.  Mostly playwrights, but a few directors and fiction writers too.  We spent the first half of the session with the participants in pairs telling each other stories:

  • Playwright A would tell a personal story to Playwright B.  
  • Playwright B then tells the story back to Playwright A.
  • Playwright A has a chance to amend or revise the story, which would then be retold by Playwright B
  • Playwright A then tells the story as a folktale, fable, etc.

This led to a discussion of how to get a degree of distance from a personal story, so that it can be worked on as a piece of theatre (not to discount the value of autobiographical work, or personal narrative, but that is not the focus of this work):

  • What elements in the story became more poetic?
  • What elements in the story conform to storytelling traditions?
  • Do you want to utilize or subvert those traditions?
  • How is your story valuable outside of your connection to it?

After a quick break, we returned to the room and began an exercise on creating a script from a distance:

  • To begin, shred several chapters of a book.
  • Ask the playwrights to create two characters.
    • How are these characters connected?
    • What is a secret one character has on another?
  • Distribute the shredded pages of the book to the playwrights.
  • The playwrights should look through theirpile of paper and find any words or phrases that are appealing either:
    • Rhythmically
    • Poetically
    • As dialogue
    • As stage directions
    • As structure

We then talked about creating work at a distance and taking the time to find yourself in it.  

  • What issues are present that are important to you?
  • What elements are deeply resonant of your voice?
  • What elements if expanded could add interesting poetic layers?

These questions were asked with the goal of recognizing that all work is generated from you and therefore is of you.  

and

Sometimes when solving a puzzle, we express our truest selves.

I did a brief presentation on Structure-Based Playwriting, suggesting a couple of exercises out of that workshop and we finished with a discussion, questions, and thoughts from the playwrights.  

It was fun doing a workshop with some new ideas and strategies in it.  Hope I get to do this one again.

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