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Humanities LibreTexts

1: Playwriting

  • Page ID
    39610
  • Playwriting is a terrifying and exhilarating endeavor and it is the basis of dramatic art. The audience came to hear a story, escape from their lives and problems, and be transformed by experiencing the struggles of another individual. The playwright is the creator of worlds, deity of conflict, and messenger of the essential truths human beings need to hear over and over throughout their lives. However, like with all things, with great power comes great responsibility.

    Playwrights are responsible for creating the entire story of the play, creating the world, the characters, the conflict, and making sure that the story builds in tension to a degree that it captivates the audience. But how do you know if the play is good? You don’t. You put your heart and soul into the project, stress over its reception and in the end you watch it with the audience and see what works and what does not. If you want to be a playwright you have to be brave and you have to be fearless because you are constantly handing over your child to someone else and hoping for the best. Along the process you are going to learn hard lessons and be humiliated, but at the same time when an audience laughs at your jokes or is captivated by your characters you will feel a sense of fulfillment that will be unmatched. When you start out you will be bad. Everyone is bad at first, but then as you learn how to structure stories and how to develop your own voice and perspective you will turn into the artist you were meant to be. An artist creates their masterpiece at the end of their career because each work leading up to it was, at a time, that artists masterpiece. Make it your mission to always strive to be better and you will have a career you will be proud of.

    New work is the life blood of theater and theater is always in need of new ideas and perspectives. Nobody thinks like you do and because of that we want to hear your story. I have been teaching playwriting for over ten years and have developed, or helped over 150 ten minute plays and 12 full-length plays from scratch, many of which have won awards. In that time I have been continuously impressed by the talent and ideas of my students, but it is their hard work that has allowed each project to become successful. Hard work will always beat talent because talented people are often lazy. However, if you are talented and hardworking then you will be unstoppable.

    This book is a resource designed to help guide you through the essential components of a play and is designed to serve as a guide to helping you develop a process for your writing that has been proven over time to be successful. These lessons are garnered from many books, interviews, classes, and life lessons on playwriting and story development.

    A play is a story told through dialogue and action. A play also poses a difficult problem that the characters or heroes try to solve over the course of the narrative. At the end of the journey the hero has been transformed and has learned something about themselves that is one of life’s essential truths. Stories are the way humans have protected and transferred the essential truths of our species and it is why stories are the primary way humans communicate with each other. As a playwright you are a world builder as well as a guardian and mouthpiece for the essential truths. I hope that on your journey you find this book helpful and I look forward to one day seeing your plays.

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