What is the course about?
Great plays come in widely divergent modes - from intense naturalism to Brechtian alienation, dream logic, even post-modernism. Each week the class will delve deep into a single famous playscript, appreciating its mechanics and the unique approach that it uses to represent the world. These nuts and bolts insights gained will be applied to your own writing - with in-class exercises that put your learning into action and will help you pick-and-mix from the dramaturgical menu to establish your own dramatic voice.
This course examines models of playwriting as practiced by some of the great writers across different cultures and periods, including Ibsen, Brecht, Miller, Churchill, Lorca, Beckett and others. It is not, however, a class designed for the mere appreciation of their work – but rather as a practical unpacking of what contemporary writers can learn from each of their approaches.
How a writer structures time, place, character and narrative says a lot about their view of the world. It also has a profound effect on the way that their content is conveyed to an audience. In this class, we will look at the mechanics of playwriting, with an eye to how they might be employed on one’s own playwriting ideas.
What will we cover?
Currently, the approaches that we plan to examine (subject to change), include:
- Epic Theatre
- Poetic Drama
- Absurdism / Surrealism
- Post-Dramatic structure
A range of texts that fit into these categories from across different cultures and eras will be referenced. Students will receive a grounding in each of these approaches and a chance to practice certain devices derived from them.
The content will not be academic but will at all times be put to use to help you in your own creative writing endeavours.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- Knowledgeably discuss and analyse a number of different modes and approaches to constructing drama, from different times, cultures and authors
- Apply the insights from these models in a practical manner to your own work
- Feel empowered to make choices about time, space, character and narrative in more dynamic ways within your own writing.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
- Some experience of reading and discussing plays, as both literature and performance
- Some experience writing scenes or monlogues (e.g. Ways Into Creative Writing or higher).
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
- Each week, the class will be encouraged to read a full playscript
- Relevant scenes from the play will be provided for class discussion but students will leanr more if they have read the script in its entirety
- Writing exercises will be conducted in class to build upon the topics covered and apply it to the students’ own writing.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
- Paper, pens and notebook for writing activities (or laptop/tablet, if preferred)
- Playtexts will be available from libraries etc or extracts provided – you may wish to purchase them if you’d like your own copies.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
- This course would be a good supplement or stepping stone to courses like Developing Your Playwriting or Advanced Playwriting
- If you are currently engaged in writing plays, the study of different playwriting models should help refresh and reinvigorate your approach to your own writing.
All students are invited to join us at Late Lines, our regular performance night for City Lit writers. Students are also encouraged to submit their work to Between the Lines, our annual anthology of creative writing. For the latest news, courses and events, stay in touch with the Department on Facebook and Twitter.