At the moment, I’m working with another playwright (although they might prefer to call themselves a theatre-maker) at the very beginnings of their project. It’s a privilege to be let in to somebody else’s first stirrings.
Part of making any performance piece is character work – but the question is often, what kind of character work should we do? Working on two main characters, one character is easy to place precisely in history, and to figure out backstory that could contribute to the evolving plot.
But try this stuff on the other character and she (the character, not the playwright) resists. It’s almost as if this character was not born in time. When we write in ways that differ from realism, this is a stumbling block that can deter us.
Continue reading “Developing an uncanny character (a few thoughts on playwriting craft #2)”
If you’re a friend of a friend of Ned Manning, there’s a question not dissimilar to the one I asked about plays you’d choose to help inspire new playwrights over on Facebook you can see here.
The question, if you can’t see it, is which four Australian plays would you choose?
It’s great to see people ask these questions. I would love us to think a bit more about why we suggest what we do. For example, Michael Gow’s Away is a great play and what about it are we hoping to inspire playwrights with?
Well, I asked a question on Facebook, and got a gazillion responses.
What would you choose?
I’m particularly taken with responses that are precise (i.e. one play rather than one playwright or several different plays – choose, dammit!) and active (i.e. give the hypothetical new playwright something to do, like edit the script down or take a poem and look for the drama).
Anyway – here goes: https://www.facebook.com/benelliswriter/posts/10155623002791159
Comment here or back there. I welcome it all.
2016 has been both a wonderful and terrifying year for me. I became a first-time parent. Then came the atmosphere stirred up by the clashing visions over Brexit and the US presidential elections. So, rather than publishing posts, I’ve been crying over many a change of nappy (sometimes with joy, I assure you.)
I have also been a tutor in playwriting throughout the year at City Lit. (You can sign up for the next 11-week term in 2017 here.) It’s an honour to share my take on our craft, and to witness the way small steps become strides for fellow playwrights over the course.
Each session is very workshop-orientated, usually prefaced with a discussion about the week’s set-play-to-read that leads into a technical exercise that the reading helps illuminate or inspire.
My favourite session this year involved a paraphrasing of something said by Ionesco – that all great plays at heart are crime mysteries – and an early 20th century feminist play. Susan Glaspell’s “Trifles” is a fantastic (and short) play that demonstrates some useful principles of playwriting – among them negotiation over physical objects and characters facing a crucial dilemma. Continue reading “Every drama is a crime drama (a few thoughts on playwriting craft #1)”
Story of the Red Mountains, commissioned by NIDA, premiered at Sydney’s Carriageworks in 2012. Tom Healey introduces the play, now available for download.
It’s a play dear to me for all sorts of reasons. I got to work with the wonderful Anthony Skuse during its development with second-year NIDA students. The production gave me the chance to reunite with director, Tim Roseman, with whom I had worked with on productions at Theatre 503.
Set on the night of the referendum to ban communism and anyone “who may become a communist” in Australia, 1951, it’s a large cast play, juggling hope, politics and violence. (Does this dynamic ever go out of fashion?)
I’m extremely pleased to share the news that my play, Keith, will be one of the plays featured at this year’s National Play Festival at the Adelaide Festival Centre in Australia. Playwriting Australia’s annual event really is on the bucket list of every playwright born or living in Australia.
More information about the Festival, the other plays and participants can be found here: http://www.pwa.org.au/npf-2015-homepage/
Writers need to read. Playwrights need to read plays. What writers & ‘wrighters do is enter into a discussion not only with their audiences but with a history of existing and surviving work. Some writers claim that they steer away from the works of others, but that just means that they are entering unknowingly with their work into discussions with the advertising and propaganda of the day. (For advertising and propaganda employ story technique on a hyper scale.) Ignoring the work of others potentially dooms you to repeat the worst of it.
As a professional playwright sometimes you can be engaged by a theatre company to deliver script reports that the literary department cannot conceivably cover via its own, usually minuscule, staff. The pay to deliver a report is fairly modest, but I can assure you (if you’ve ever submitted your script to a theatre company and you’ve wondered what happens) that every script reader I’ve met wants to find a play they love.
In terms of writing up my reports, I’ve tried to follow this process for a number of years now with these questions. Continue reading “What happens when I read a play”
As the page about me on Wikipedia says, I used to have a blog called Parachute of a Playwright, but that’s no more. I deleted the posts, but didn’t keep the url. If you go there these days, someone I don’t know is running it. My guess is by an incompetent robot made from hose material and cardboard. Not anybody related to me.
This part of this new site is for news, writing exercises and the odd bit of sharing.