Workshopping Plays

last revised 2/21/08

I like that Naked Playwriting actually kind of dissects, or deconstructs, the way people comment on plays on p. 209, often letting their ego get in the way of making constructive comments, or following the herd, or of even "castrating" the play as Edward Albee talks about (p. 212).  This should be something authors read to make themselves feel a little less touchy about getting comments.  Still, they still tell authors to listen, take notes, and not get defensive (p. 210).

So, now I'm going to focus on the readers.  When you are giving people comments on their plays, you can, of course, use everything we've "talked" about thus far from the Naked Playwriting chapters, especially those on structure, character, and dialogue.  You can review the playwriting vocabulary sheet to remind yourself of possible workshop or craft language you can use.

You can, if the internal logic of the play requires it, read with realism lenses, or if they play requires it, you can read with more alternative, absurdist, or postmodern lenses (this is very significant if someone is doing a pastiche or a parody, or even more of a performance piece or a monologue).  Internal logic can also be stated as: "What is the artist trying to do?" (p. 211).

You can also talk about texts of pleasure vs. texts of bliss, or any other craft language you have learned in your other classes.

You can also simply ask yourself, "How would I change anything in this script if it were mine?" (NP p. 218).  The hard next question is "why would I make those changes?" and yet trying to answer this question for the author can be most helpful for both you and the author.  You can mention these kinds of things with line edits, annotations, and/or summary comments (like the dissections of the 10 minute plays in NP p. 218+).  If you are making electronic comments, summary comments are often the easiest.

If you need more focus, here are some guiding questions thus far:

And here are some other questions you might prefer to answer from the critic Johann Wolfgang von Goethe on NP p. 211: