Writing the personal: autobiographical theatre
Time: 18:00 - 20:30
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Course Code: HW570
Duration: 2 sessions (over 2 weeks)
What is the course about?
Some of the most successful recent productions have developed from writer-performers' own lives, but it can be hard to know how to work with the raw material of our own experiences. Over two intensive sessions we'll unpack what autobiographical theatre is and can be. Where is the boundary between fact and fiction? Which theatrical ‘frame’ will give shape to the random experiences of life? How do you bend the ‘rules’ of traditional playwriting when you are the writer, performer, AND protagonist?
Tutor Brian Mullin has written both traditional plays and autobiographical work: on this course, he introduces students to the form, using text and video examples from across the decades, and practical writing assignments. Whether you are an experienced writer, a performer, or just someone with a fascinating life experience, you can kick start the process of making your own show.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
- exploring distinctions between autobiographical theatre and traditional playwriting
- examining notable recent examples of the form
- selecting episodes and memories from your life that have dramatic potential
- choosing a theatrical frame that gives shape to the content.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- understand and identify the formal elements of effective autobiographical theatre
- select content from your own life that has the potential for dramatic adaptation
- practice creative writing techniques that explore ways to dramatise your life experience
- begin writing the draft of what might become your own autobiographical piece.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This is an intermediate course that is best suited to someone who’s had some experience with any form of creative writing (plays, novels, poetry, memoir). In addition, the course may also suit those who've done some acting or live poetry and want to branch out into creating their own shows.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
In-class we will both read and watch extracts from professionally produced autobiographical theatre. Through practical exercises at home and in class, you will begin drafting short texts that might make up the start of a new autobiographical theatre piece. Within the time constraints, short portions of your work will be shared and feedback given by both your tutor and your fellow students.
All writing courses at City Lit will involve an element of workshop. This means that students will produce work which will be discussed in an open and constructive environment with the tutor and other students. The college operates a policy of constructive criticism, and all feedback on another student’s work by the tutor and other students should be delivered in that spirit.
For classes longer than one day regular reading and writing exercises will be set for completion at home to set deadlines.
City Lit Writing endeavours to create a safe and welcoming space for all and we strongly support the use of content notes in our classes. This means that learners are encouraged to make their tutor and classmates aware in advance if any writing they wish to share contains material that may be deemed sensitive. If you are unsure about what might constitute sensitive content, please ask your tutor for further clarification and read our expectations for participating in writing courses at City Lit.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
There are no additonal costs. Please bring writing materials.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Upon finishing this course, you should have the kernel of what could become a text for a full-length autobiographical show. You will gain key skills and momentum that would help you advance the draft more on your own, or on another City Lit course such as Creative Non-Fiction or Advanced Playwriting.
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.
Brian Mullin is a playwright and dramaturg. He co-founded Babakas Theatre and co-created ‘Our Fathers’, a devised show that toured the UK and other countries in 2014. His play ‘We Wait in Joyful Hope’ premiered at Theatre 503 in May 2016. He also teaches writing at St Mary's University and on the National Theatre's New Views programme.
Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.