Chapter 6: The Playwright and the Script

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Chapter 6: The Playwright and the Script

  1. 1. Chapter 6Chapter 6 The Playwright and theThe Playwright and the ScriptScript
  2. 2. The One Who BuildsThe One Who Builds The root word wright in playwright comes from the Middle Ages and means “one who builds.” A shipwright builds ships; a wheelwright builds wheels. A playwright builds plays. ChrisBennion
  3. 3. The Primary ArtistThe Primary Artist Theatre begins with the playwright, the artist who conceives the theme, the characters, the dialogue, and the story. Playwrights are so important to the process that many theatre professionals call them the “primary artist.” “The writer is the person who was there when the paper was white.” -- Moss Hart, playwright
  4. 4. The Playwright’s Life and WordsThe Playwright’s Life and Words • CopyrightCopyright • What are some of the basic differencesWhat are some of the basic differences between playwrights and screenwriters?between playwrights and screenwriters? • Closed shop unionClosed shop union • Open show unionOpen show union • If screenwriters can make so much moreIf screenwriters can make so much more money, why become a playwright?money, why become a playwright?
  5. 5. The Art of PlaywritingThe Art of Playwriting •DialogueDialogue •Stage directionsStage directions •ParentheticalsParentheticals AP Photo/Kathy Willens
  6. 6. The Theme in a PlayThe Theme in a Play Themes are statements about the centralThemes are statements about the central ideas that generate the life of the playideas that generate the life of the play APPhoto/KathyWillens
  7. 7. The Theme in a PlayThe Theme in a Play • Themes that are revealed through actionThemes that are revealed through action are theatrically more interesting thanare theatrically more interesting than those that are explicitly stated.those that are explicitly stated. • Themes are often open to interpretationThemes are often open to interpretation by the directors, designers and actorsby the directors, designers and actors and by the audience as well.and by the audience as well.
  8. 8. Characters in ActionCharacters in Action Characters come to life not by what they feel and think but by what they say and do. Actions are the characters’ deeds. SARA KRULWICH/The New York Times/Redux Pictures
  9. 9. Conflict as CatalystConflict as Catalyst  Plays are about people with needs and desires and obstacles preventing them from what they want.  Desire + obstacle x lack of compromise = conflict Photostage
  10. 10. The Art of LanguageThe Art of Language Dialogue begins with the need to talk. HowDialogue begins with the need to talk. How is this realized by the playwright?is this realized by the playwright? 1. text 2. subtext 3. listening 4. imagery 5. music a. rhythm b. tempo c. tone Jennie Franks
  11. 11. GenreGenre  A category of an artistic work that has aA category of an artistic work that has a particular form, style, or subject matterparticular form, style, or subject matter  The rules of the world of the playThe rules of the world of the play
  12. 12. Plotting the StoryPlotting the Story Many plays and screenplays follow aMany plays and screenplays follow a blueprint:blueprint: Oedipus Rex, Romeo and Juliet, AOedipus Rex, Romeo and Juliet, A Raisin in the Sun,Raisin in the Sun, andand Star Wars.Star Wars.
  13. 13. Formula PlotsFormula Plots 1. Beginning1. Beginning A.A. Exposition or back storyExposition or back story B.B. Protagonist and antagonistProtagonist and antagonist C.C. EventEvent D. DisturbanceD. Disturbance E.E. Point of AttackPoint of Attack F. Major Dramatic QuestionF. Major Dramatic Question
  14. 14. Formula PlotsFormula Plots 2. The Middle2. The Middle A.A. Rising ActionRising Action B.B. ConflictsConflicts C.C. CrisisCrisis D.D. ComplicationsComplications E.E. Dark MomentDark Moment JoanMarcus
  15. 15. Formula PlotsFormula Plots 3.3. The EndThe End A. Enlightenment B. Climax C. Denouement
  16. 16. Plots Outside the FormulaPlots Outside the Formula Writers who abandon formula often try to look at life the way it is, or as they perceive it, rather than fit it into a standard structure: • Waiting for Godot • ‘night Mother • Pulp FictionJoan Marcus
  17. 17. What the Playwrights SayWhat the Playwrights Say “We’re one of the last handmade art forms. There’s noWe’re one of the last handmade art forms. There’s no fast way to make plays. It takes just as long and is justfast way to make plays. It takes just as long and is just as hard as it was a thousand years ago.”as hard as it was a thousand years ago.” Steven Dietz, playwrightSteven Dietz, playwright “The very impulse to write, I think, springs from an inner chaos crying for order, for meaning, and that meaning must be discovered in the process of writing or the work lies dead as it is finished.” Arthur Miller, playwrightArthur Miller, playwright
  18. 18. Curtain CallCurtain Call In the theatre, the playwright is the PrimaryIn the theatre, the playwright is the Primary Artist. Yet, unlike the actors, director, designers,Artist. Yet, unlike the actors, director, designers, or producer, the playwright is the only member ofor producer, the playwright is the only member of the theatrical ensemble that can be long dead.the theatrical ensemble that can be long dead. A playwright’s life may be difficult, but they know the joy of sole authorship and find great satisfaction in communicating their ideas without alteration.

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