On Playwriting

Over many years of acting, directing, getting graduate degrees, teaching, and writing, I’ve come up with some notions about playwriting.

Here begins a series about the vagaries of writing scripts.

If you are a newbie playwright, this is not precisely a How To Write blog. It will, however, provide more detail than in the usual How To Write screeds. (But here’s a good one. Although I disagree with some of its ideas about structure. More on that later.)

If you’re coming to playwriting without theatre experience, get some. Go to the theatre. Volunteer in theatres. Take an acting class. And read plays.

Read plays even if you have been doing theatre all your life. Keep reading them. They show you what’s hot. They give you good ideas about your own plays.

Reading a play isn’t easy. It’s not like reading a novel, or a short story. It’s more like reading music. No one ever says “I read a great new sonata today!” But you can learn how to read a play.

Start learning to read plays by going see a show. Then read the script, and think about how the words got translated to the stage. Eventually, you’ll learn how to see and hear the play in your head, even if you haven’t seen it in production. Playwrights and directors know how to see things that aren’t there. Then they make them appear to an audience.

Script analysis is a great way of learning how a play works, so you can read them more easily, and learn to write them. That’s the next post.

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