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Cohen Chapter 3- the Playwright

The Playwright
by

Terie Spencer

on 20 October 2017

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Transcript of Cohen Chapter 3- the Playwright

The Role of the Playwright

the final form of a dramatic text is in performance-
its essence is not description, but action.
The Qualities of a Fine Play
Credibility
The characters are understandable
and believable as PEOPLE
The situation can be incredible
but the characters must be credible

Intrigue
Makes us want to know "What will happen?"
Not just in the plot but in a character's
psyche and soul

Intrigue draws us into the world of a play- credibility keeps us there
The Playwright’s Process
No set formula for playwriting-
you can start from anywhere

Plot outline
Character(s)
Setting
Event
Theatrical effect or gimmick
Personal story or dream
Improvisation
Adaptation
Some Current American Playwrights
David Mamet
Rough, broken dialogue centering on issues of masculinity
Tony Kushner
Angels in America: a contemporary masterpiece: a sprawling play with thematic depth and fantastical structure
David Henry Hwang
M. Butterfly and other plays examine sexual and cultural tensions of East and West
Neil Labute
Highly prolific oeuvre featuring vicious dialogue
Lynn Nottage
Socially invested dramas examine multiple cultures and voices
In a way, the
playwright
is
the most important figure
in the theatrical process
The playwright generates the TEXT
that is to be performed
Yet in another way the playwright
is the most
He/she is uninvolved in the final product
peripheral
CH 3- THE PLAYWRIGHT
The point of origin is also a point of DEPARTURE.
PLAYWRIGHT
DIRECTOR
THEATRICAL TEAM
PRODUCT
(actors, designers)
Playwright and Director:
what should their relationship be?
partners?
antagonistic?
worshipful?
Speakability, Stageability and Flow
The goal is for words and actions
to have maximum impact when staged
Richness
Depth in language
Specificity
A reason for every nuance

Depth of Characterization

A character's motives appear reasonable-
no one sees him/herself as the "bad guy"

Independent intention, motivation
and expression

Every character has his or her own "voice"
way of speaking
thinking
relating
Very difficult for the actor
if this is missing
Gravity

Touches on the human predicament
Universal problems

Pertinence
Relevance of the theme
to the concerns of the audience
and to current events
Compression

Condensing a story into a theatrical timeframe
Celebration
Persistent hopefulness!

Writing, producing,
attending theatre-
all acts of affirmation

Extend our known experience
Illuminate life
Raise
existence

to the level of
art
A script is not a play
in the same way
that a drawing of a wheel
is not a wheel
Playwriting is event writing!
Whatever message a playwright is trying to get across, it has to be with
events.

Events are shown with
dialogue

and
physical action.
NONLINEAR playwriting
shifts in
time
place
style
Two ways the events can be ordered:
LINEAR playwriting
chronological
cause-effect
realistic
stream of consciousness
subplots
randomness...
Speakability
Words must be chosen
deliberately and with care
stylization
different "voices"
Flow
Stageability
Must take into account setting and physical demands
Always saying something,
doing something,
meaning something
Economy
Aiding compression by
consolidating
characters, events,
locales, words
Intensity
Increasing urgency
Conflict
Such as discovery, victory, revelation
Structure
Developed consciously or unconsciously,
but always carefully organized
Playwriting deals with three major areas
Dialogue
Use remembered and imagined conversations
as jumping off points
Use powers of observation
Most playwriting is rewriting

To be a writer, read.
To be a playwright,
see and read plays
The playwright provides the SCRIPT,
but the PLAY is created without him or her (usually).
The playwright gives the script up to the director. The director must create a play.

Whose vision should be dominant?
There is no right answer.
Character, theme
and
plot
are in the written words-
but the components of
diction, music, spectacle, and convention
must be added for a play to be complete
Playwriting is both literary and nonliterary
ACTIONS
WORDS
Full transcript