Any prose benefits from sharpening the tools most often associated with playwriting: monologue, dialogue, and silence. Whether it is in the compelling presence of the monologue in the radio work of NPR’s Ira Glass and David Sedaris, the sharp stylized dialogue in the plays of Harold Pinter and August Wilson, the aching humor found in the scripts of Amazon’s Transparent, or the wry poignant humor in the stories of Lorrie Moore, modern prose leans heavily on theatrical instances of people speaking to each other and to themselves.
This is a workshop to be enjoyed standing up. Using techniques borrowed from Viola Spolin’s Theater Games and NPR’s This American Life, we will write a play or theatrical monologue that can be performed on stage and in front of people. We will write in the session, generating at least four short pieces over the two days. We will examine the effects that surprise, freshness, and challenge have on how we tell stories. We will look at our dreams, our fears, our family histories, happenstance, even articles from The New York Times as sources of inspiration.
“When the image is new, the world is new.”—Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space
A film is nothing more than a series of images. This course is for anyone interested in exploring and writing short films. We’ll watch and read some films by Alfred Hitchcock, Andrea Arnolds, John August, Mads Mattheisen, and Philippe Orreindy. We’ll also look at various kinds of short films: narrative, experimental, and punch-line. All the while, we will discuss how strong images enhance screenplay writing and bring the film to life from the page to the screen.
This course is for writers interested in the art of film adaptation. Participants will begin the process of adapting their own work (or someone else’s) into a screenplay. We will look at how other writers have handled adapting their own or others’ original work—from Diana Ossana and Larry McMultry’s adaptation of Annie Proulx’s Brokeback Mountain, to Charlie Kaufman’s looser interpretation of Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief, to video poems and fairy tale adaptations.
We all know the adage, “Show, don’t tell!” But what’s so good about showing—or so very bad about telling?
Getting the words down on the page is only the first step for a playwright. At some point you need to hear it read. Reading it out loud to the dog doesn’t count; you need to listen while someone else says your words. If you have at least the start of a play and are ready to take the next step and really hear what you’ve written, this week is for you. Your readers will primarily be your classmates, but when possible we’ll have some actors in to read as well. We’ll discuss the process of submitting plays for production and publication.
This workshop is for the aspiring screenwriter who wants to gain a basic understanding of the screen trade and script form; to develop the subject of a screenplay, including the action and the characters; to discover the dynamic elements needed to successfully tell a fleshed-out cinematic story; and to work from the three-act dramatic structure which has driven many diverse classic and contemporary films. There is no need to begin with anything but a love of movies and an idea for a motion picture.