Playwriting Master Class by Michael Wright | Teen Ink

Playwriting Master Class by Michael Wright

August 27, 2013
By Kittengoo GOLD, Sioux City, Iowa
Kittengoo GOLD, Sioux City, Iowa
18 articles 3 photos 10 comments

Favorite Quote:
When life gives you lemons, make orange juice and let life wonder how you did it.

"Playwriting Master Class: The Personality of Process and the Art of Rewriting."

Don't turn away, now! I promise this will be more interesting than the title. Even I had no idea what I was in for.

I picked this up from the library yesterday. It may say "by Michael Wright" on the front, but that's a lie; each chapter's main contributions were written by eight different playwrights over the course of several months.

Also, have I mentioned it isn't a how-to book?

It is a psychological study on playwrights.

In this book, eight famous playwrights were invited to take part in the challenge of writing a five to ten minute play on the prompt "a key in a red envelope". Rule one: during the writing of this play, they must journal every day on how they are mentally, where their creative juices are flowing, decisions and ideas for the direction of the work, things that have inspired them, etc. Rule two: They must document every draft and every trash-worthy, dead-end plot and draft. Each chapter is devoted to one of these authors, and the book is split into three parts; those who go about it loosely, those who go about it strictly, with set structure, and those for whom the stories seem to spring up fully formed. It is a study on their creative processes. Through the evolution of their journals and the corresponding drafts, you see their approaches unfold.

And it is freakin' fascinating.

First of all, the plays are fantastic. I was reading several drafts thinking "this is amazing, this is gold", and the authors completely bin it and start afresh. The final plays are often laugh-out-loud, tear-jerking, stirring, or all three. The daily journals are both engrossing and, for me, at least, as an author, 100% sympathetic. Even if I had no interest in playwriting (I do) I think I would be taken in by this, because they are authors. No matter what medium they prefer, they are an author, and so am I. Despite this not being a narrative book, I felt a connection, like we were the same.

The book doesn't presume to tell you HOW to do anything; if anything, it shows that everybody's creative processes are different. Yet, it is enlightening. There was a technique or two that I admired and DEFINITELY squirreled away for further use. All in all, it is fun yet serious, lighthearted yet somber. Each play is as different from the next as apples are from matchsticks. The diverse personalities, A-list plays, and engrossing psychological aspect really surprised me in this itsy bitsy, unnoticed little book, and I think it deserves to be lauded more than it has been. This is definitely one of the best library finds I've stumbled across in a long time.

The author's comments:
I'm in the middle of writing my first ten-minute play. Ever. Yikes...

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