21M.604 | Spring 2005 | Undergraduate
Playwriting I


1 Playwrights are Storytellers Discussion: What is a Play?
Conflict/No Conflict Improvisation
Introduction to Source Work/Research/Creating the World of your Play
Warm Up: Writing Lists
What are the Stories you Want to Tell?
Creating Character: In Class Writing Exercise
2 The Power of the Unspoken Word The Unspoken Word: What is left out? What is inferred? Why is this powerful? What role does this give the audience?
Creating Story/Creating Events
Define and Discuss What an Event is
Review Conflict
Introduce Obstacles and Urgency
Read and Workshop Assignments
3 Actions Speak Louder than Words Review: Action, Events, Conflict, Behavior, Urgency, Obstacles.

Discuss Jose Rivera’s “The Winged Man” in terms of actions, events, conflicts, behavior, urgency, obstacles, tone/shift in tone, and the theatrical device of the blackout/voice over. In class writing: “The Car Play.”

4 The Challenge of Exposition and How to Create High- and Low-Context Dialogue Read and workshop assignments. Discuss Act 1 of Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” in terms of high-context/low-context dialogue.
5 Disrupted Ritual Review: Action, Events, Conflict, Behavior, Urgency, Obstacles.

Read and workshop assignments. Discuss Donald Margulies’ play “Last Tuesday” in terms of the power of disrupted ritual. Introduce keeping a sound journal.

6 Thinking about Plot Review: Behavior and what motivates it. Read and workshop assignments. Demonstrate brainstorming a plot. Discuss David Ives’ “Words, Words, Words” in terms of plot.
7 Thinking about Sound Play Jenga. Discuss the game in terms of structure, tension, organization, participation, and climax. Read and workshop assignments. Introduce radio plays.
8 Dialogue is Action Discuss David Mamet’s “Glengarry Glen Ross” in terms of what we learn about the characters and the world they live and work in through suggestion or by what is inferred. (This is a variation on the Power of the Unspoken Word.) Note the use of “insider language.” Follow the power dynamics and their shift from character to character. Who do you root for? Who do you sympathize with? Why? Who is desperate? Why? And how do you know? What are the clues? Read and workshop assignments.
9 Composition: Adding Elements In Class Composition Exercise, based on Anne Bogart’s Work.
Discuss the Use of Multiple Elements/Multiple Layers in Playwriting.
Read and Workshop Assignments.
10 Obstacle + Action = Great Theater Read and workshop assignments. Analyze one student’s play in terms of wants, obstacles and actions. Who wants what, what are the obstacles, and what actions are taken to overcome the obstacles.
11-12 Reading and Workshopping Final Projects

Course Info
As Taught In
Spring 2005
Learning Resource Types
group_work Projects with Examples
assignment Written Assignments