Playwriting English 3430 Calendar, Fall 2016

Introduction to Playwriting for Creative Writers by Professor Lee Ann Mortensen, MFA at Utah Valley University

 



 

 

 

 

 

Updated 12/6/16 3:43 PM

Subject to change - print only 1-2 pages at a time if you need hard copies.

 

  T TH T TH T TH T TH T TH
August             23 25 30  
September   1 6 8 13 15 20 22 27 29
October 4 6 11 13 18 20 25 27    
November 1 3 8 10 15 17 22 24 29  
December

 

1

2 Fri

6

8

Sat

10

13 15    

 

 

 

Calendar--Discussions, Readings, & Exercises

Lecture Notes

Aug. 23

 

What is a Playwright?

Readings Due Before Class:

--Purchase Naked PlaywritingASAP (as in yesterday)!
--The first play we will read is Twighlight: Los Angeles (a play about race riots told through monologues)
--Syllabus & Calendar

 

Assignments due before class:


 

Lee's Lecture Notes--often a link will appear here, or there are loose notes below...

 

Day 1 Lecture Notes

 

Aug. 25

Monologues and more Monologues...
Readings Due Before Class:

--Naked Playwriting forward, ch. 1 (also a pdf in Canvas Files)
--Twighlight: Los Angeles (a play about race riots told through monologues): read the introduction and Act 1 (there is one in Canvas Files under Twilight)
--On-line: read Act 1 of A Doll's House or watch it on Amazon or in Canvas under Media Gallery. If this isn't up, watch Death of a Salesman.

 

Assignments due before class:

  • Ex. 1: part 1 Monologue--this Guided Playbook exercise where you Interview someone who could be interesting (or not at all interesting), and begin writing a monologue for them, or you can include fictional or historical notes from a more invented character. You could also look for characters in the news that you'd like to write a monologue for like the poet Ai did for most of her carreer (see "Cuba, 1962). You could use some character questions (scroll down), think of your own perhaps more incendiary questions, or use these basics from Pumping Your Muse. Focus yourself or them on what they most want in life that they don't have or that was hard to come by. What does this character most want in life that they have had a hard time getting? See an interview-to-monologue example from Anna Deveare Smith (Toughness). Upload this to Canvas Assignments Ex. 2 Interview for Monologue. You can upload pictures on handwritten notes, or you can upload MP3's or audio. We are working toward 1-5 pages of monologue.

 

Day 2 Notes

Day 2 Lecture Notes??

Aug. 30

Monologues and Character
Readings Due Before Class:

--Naked Playwriting ch. 1 and 5 on character (questions; flaws), & Appendix B (sketches)
--Twighlight: Los Angeles: Act 2 (finish--you should also watch the movie--go to Canvas Media Gallary on the left at the bottom, then click on the movie)
--On-line: Act 2 of A Doll's House (on Canvas Media Gallery--see the bottom of the textual menu on the left).
--Watch a monologue play like Leguizamo's Freak, or Ensler's Vagina Monologues, or Julia Sweeney's Letting Go of God.
--Handouts on Canvas Files: Out of Character--Gomez, Anderson, Gray

 

Assignments due before class:

  • Ex. 1 part 2--post a better monologue (or a set of related monologues like Twilight: Los Angeles has), but keep working on it as we workshop: Upload your 4-10 minute or 1-5 single-spaced page monologue (maybe it's becoming a soliloquy in a longer play, or just one of many voices in a longer play) under Monologue--Better Draft in Canvas Assignments as a PDF file. Based on your Ex. 2 part 1 interview; you can also read it and see how long it lasts.  add more details, build up character, think of their voice, their neuroses, their obsessions and wounds and unconcious and conscious desires, their core issues, their daily activities, and trivia/disection questions from NP p. 113 that can help build all the previous. Also, think about Freytag's triangle or the three act restorative structure. What is a possible inciting moment for them to finally act to get what they want? What are possible complications that get in the way of them getting what they want? If you get stuck, start a new monologu by using characters from the news. Upload to Canvas Assignments. You should use details from the interview, but you can also make up your own details, think about the character's Psychoanalytic issues or phobias or defense mechanisms, or fill in the blanks with some of NP ch. 5 character dissection questions EVEN IF YOU HAVE TO MAKE UP THE ANSWERS (playwrights are also like fiction writers that way because people's conflicts aren't easily seen, and don't easily fit into Freytag's triangle), for example:

    • what is their age or sex and does this impact their lives a lot or a little?
    • what do they carry in their pockets or purse?
    • what is their socioeconomic status?
    • what is their occupation?
    • what are their inhibitions?
    • what are their hopes?
    • what are their ambitions?
    • what are their disapointments?
  • Daily Playbook Writing (a writing journal for playwrights): playwright John Guare tells us to write down everything in the hope that we will eventually see "patterns of truth" (see intro. to Six Degrees). Sometimes I will ask you to upload favorite Playbook entries to Canvas.

 

Day 3 Notes

 

 

Day 3 Lecture Notes??

Sep. 1

Monologues, Realism, and Pitching Your Play--Is It "Half-Baked"?
Readings Due Before Class:

--Naked Playwriting ch. 2 (playwriting movements)
--Watch on Canvas Media Gallery Twilight: Los Angeles
--Handout: Niel LaButte's Bash tragic monologue, "Iphegenia in Orem" (in Canvas Files)
--Handout: Tyson's Psychoanalytic Theory chapter pp. 11-26 (in Canvas Files)
--On-line: Act 3 of A Doll's House (there is a DVD in the library, and it's on ereserve ??, or on Netflix)
--Read and comment on peer monologues: look for extra copies under Canvas Discussions Monologues Here!

 

Assignments due before class:

  • Kajsa will bring 10 copies of a draft of their monologue based on their interview. Be sure you upload your drafts to Canvas Discussions "Workshop Drafts Here!"


Day 4 Notes

--Handout (on-line): Lee's Lectures/Reactions to NP ch. 1

--Handout: a few sample pitches

 

Day 4 Lecture Notes??

Sep. 6

A Pitch Workshop--Making Comments on Themes, Desires, Characters, and story Ideas (is almost impossible)

Readings Due Before Class
:

--Read and write comments on peer monologues from Kajsa: look for extra copies under Canvas Assignments "Workshop Drafts Here!" There are also drafts outside my office CB410d
--Naked Playwriting: ch. 2
--Handout: Outside Play Reaction Assignment--just read this: you should attend 2-3 plays, or movies, preferably more independent films like those sponsored by The Salt Lake Film Society)
--Start reading Six Degrees of Separation (this should only take you 3-4 hours or less to read; it includes Author's Preface and Production Notes; also take a look at the set design on the last page).

 

Assignments due before class:

  • Ex. 2: Pitches (there are many sample pitches in ch. 1; also look over my lecture notes). Your pitches will hopefully have a sense of focus on a single story, on a protagonist who wants something very badly, or on two characters in conflict, and on stageability. Upload your two best pitches for an original character-based play (or character-based screenplay, though working with a very small scope is the point of this assignment). This short paragraph (300 words each) should contain a clear idea or theme/premise, "proper scope" and focus, and knowledge of the subject, along with characters (protagonists/antagonists) in conflict with "deeply held desires, who are shown at a critical moment in their lives" (NP 6). Of course, you may also want to focus on more absurdist, postmodern, or fantastical pitches which can be an interesting way to critique culture and desire, religion, tyrants, people who go along with tyrants, free will, slavery, and uncertainty (see Beckett; and Rhinoceros or Fight Club in Cavas Media Gallery; see Charlie Kaufman). But if you are going for "traditional" realism like A Doll's House, think of these things: What do the characters do to change? What is the emotional truth of all this? What is the central conflict? What is the central theme? Would an audience find it plausible or intelligible?  Is it stageable?  Are the characters complex (not "cleansed of invention"?).  Upload your pitches to Canvas Discussions Ex. 2 Pitches.
  • Guided Playbook #1: start writing dialogue for a scene between characters in one of your pitches and post it to Canvas Discussions.
  • Daily Playbook Writing (a writing journal for playwrights): Guare tells us to write down everything (fights, dreams, jokes, rages, overheards) in the hope that we will eventually see "patterns of truth" that we can use in our plays (see intro. to Six Degrees). Try to make three or more entries over the weekend dealing with one of your pitches.
  • Steven will bring 10 copies of a draft of their monologue based on their interview. Be sure you upload your drafts to Canvas Discussions "Workshop Drafts Here!"

 

Day 5 Notes

 

 

 

 

 

Sep. 8

Subtext, Absurdity, and Other Schools
Readings Due Before Class:

--Read and write comments on peer monologues from Steven: look for extra copies under Canvas Assignments "Workshop Drafts Here!" There are also drafts outside my office CB410d.
--Keep reading Six Degrees of Separation
--Naked Playwriting: bring it
--Watch Rhinoceros, theater or film of the absurd (in Canvas Media Gallery)
--Be ready to discuss Youtube Ionesco's "classic" The Bald Soprano You can get one with subtitles too.

 

Assignments due before class:

  • Reply to the ex. 1 pitches in Canvas that are generated by Canvas, telling the authors which pitch seems more interesting or more feasable, stageable, focused, conflictual, thematically strong, funny etc. and why. If Canvas doesn't generate names for you to reply to, choose 3 peers that don't have a lot of comments, and do a mini-workshop on their pitch ideas.
  • Reading Reaction 1: do a 600 word, double-spaced writerly reaction to something thought provoking from Naked Playwriting and one of the monologue sets or plays we have read or watched (try to focus on things you are learning in terms of writing--what dialogue works, what doesn't; how do you characterize when all you have is dialogue? what really starts to pull you along?). Here's a sample of a reading reaction. Please post these to Canvas Discussions.
  • Christine will bring 10 copies of a draft of their monologue based on their interview. Be sure you upload your drafts to Canvas Discussions "Workshop Drafts Here!"
 

Day 6 Notes

 

Sep. 13

More "Schools" of Playwriting, and Structure
Readings Due Before Class:

--Read and write comments on peer monologues from Christine: look for extra copies under Canvas Assignments "Workshop Drafts Here!" There are also drafts outside my office CB410d
--Finish Guare's Six Degrees of Separation
--Watch Six Degrees--there is a copy on Canvas under Media Gallery.
--Handout: "Theater of the Absurd" about Western and Eastern theater by Jan Culík (read the Western part)

Assignments due before class:

  • Replies to RR1 in Canvas Discussions (these should generate people for you to reply to automatically): have a 50 word conversation about the RR1 comments you and your peer made--academics often like to keep the dialogue going rather than shutting it down, so you can add to what they say, or argue against their ideas or the books ideas, or use different supportive and/or contradictory examples from your life and writing experience to extend the conversation.
  • Exercise 3, "Ultimate Playwriting Exercise--Absurdist Edition": think about using some of the tension from absurdist plays about God (or some other sacred cow) being dead or uncaring or unaware. You can also play with existential concepts like life is pointless, then you die, or that we are all trapped in our own, personal perceptions, never able to really connect. You can also play with the Alienation Effect a la Brecht. See Naked Playwriting ch. 2, especially from pp. 40-46--on page 45 it actually suggests you start by thinking of some central premise dealing with the patheticness of the human race. The ideas for this play come from the Ultimate Playwriting Exercise, so watch that too. Then brainstorm some random characters, then brainstorm some props, settings, words etc. See my example in Canvas Discussions Ex. 3. You can upload your lists there, or use some of mine, but you at least need to upload the first draft or start of your absurdist play.
    • Theater of the Absurd often deals with the randomness or meaninglessness of life, or the disconnectedness of the existential subject (a person who is locked in their own, personal perceptions). Absurdist works can be funny or serious.
    • Using details from Ex. 3 in Canvas (or your own details), think about the catalyst for the protagonist starting to work toward something they want very badly even though they know their struggle is futile in a world that is so full of random meaning and disconnect?
  • Jessica and Josh will bring 10 copies of a draft of their play based on their interview or on their pitches. Be sure you upload your drafts to Canvas Discussions "Workshop Drafts Here!"


 

Day 7 Notes

 

 

 

Sep. 15

Monologues and Character, and more Monomyth; Plot vs. Character-Based works
Readings Due Before Class:

--Read and write comments on peer monologues from Christine, Jessica, and Josh: look for extra copies under Canvas Assignments "Workshop Drafts Here!" There are also drafts outside my office CB410d
--Naked Playwriting
ch. 3 (structure I)
--Handout: Lee's Lecture Notes on Character
--Watch Waiting for Godot, the ultimate absurdist play by Becket (there's a good one on Youtube).

Assignments due before class:

  • Exercise 3: upload to Canvas Assignments Ultimate Playwriting Ex. 3 which should be a revision of your absudist play after you choose two characters from your list or someone else's list, a prop, and a setting. This should be more fleshed and revised until you have an absurdist 5-10 minute play (5-10 pages). In Naked Playwriting on page 45 it suggests you start by thinking of some central premise dealing with the patheticness (or a specific flaw) of the human race (or some specific patheticness of the human race or some character, or the patheticness of the human race in Utah, or in Orem, or in your house or apartment--specificity and focus can really help a lot with any kind of writing). What are you're character's flaws that get in the way of them getting what they want? Another way to think about is to shock "man out of an existence that has become trite" (Culic), or where you try to "discard the idea of theatre as a representation of life" (Wisegeek).
  • Ammon will bring 9 copies of a draft of their Absurdist Ultimate play (or monologue) based on their interview, pitch, or Ex. 3. Be sure you upload your drafts to Canvas Discussions "Workshop Drafts Here!"


Day 8 Notes

 

 

Day 6 Lecture Notes?

--Handout: Lee's Lecture/Reactions to NP ch. 3

 

Sep. 14

Touchstones Submission Deadline at midnight online.  

Sep. 2

Touchstones Reading Night--all are invited to help do the 3 readings per piece. SC 213A  

Sep. 20

Character and Dialogue that Sound Real (or absurd); Plot vs. Character-Based works
Readings Due Before Class:

--Read and write comments on peer monologues from Ammon (and some last comments for Josh): look for extra copies under Canvas Assignments "Workshop Drafts Here!" There are also drafts outside my office CB410d
--watch Death of a Salesman in Canvas Media Gallery.
--NP ch. 6 Dialogue
--Handout: Workshopping
--Handout: Event Grid for Six Degrees
--Handout on Canvas Files: Touchstones Spring 2013--Read the play p. 25+, and the prose (see the TOC for pages)
--Be working on your absurdist 5 to 10 minute play from exercise 3 for workshop (or if that one didn't work out, start a new piece for workshop from your pitches, Ultimate Ex, Playbook journaling or observations)...

Assignments due before class:

  • Daily Playbook Writing (a writing journal for playwrights): Guare tells us to write down everything in the hope that we will eventually see "patterns of truth" (see intro. to Six Degrees). Sometimes I will ask you to upload favorite Playbook entries to Canvas.
  • Auto Replies to Ex. 3 due (for two people).



Day 9 Notes

 

Sep. 22

More from Structure Part 1 -
Readings Due Before Class:

--Handout: Workshopping
--Be working on your absurdist 5 to 10 minute play from exercise 3 for workshop (or if that one didn't work out, start a new piece for workshop from your pitches, Ultimate Ex, Playbook journaling or observations)...

Assignments due before class:

  • Michael will bring 9 copies of a draft of their Monologue or Absurdist Ultimate play. Be sure you upload your drafts to Canvas Discussions "Workshop Drafts Here!"
 

 

Day 10 Notes

 

Day 8 Lecture Notes?

 


? Intersections will take all work today submit.intersections@gmail.com???????????  
? Warp n Weave submisisons due!????????????  
Sep. 27

Dialogue, the 10 minute play, and Structure
Readings Due Before Class:

--Read and write comments on peer monologues from Michael: look for extra copies under Canvas Assignments "Workshop Drafts Here!" There are also sometimes drafts outside my office CB410d.
--Handout: Workshopping
--Handout: "Theater of the Absurd" about Western and Eastern theater by Jan Culík (read the Western part)
--Watch video of a play on Media Gallery: Doubt
--Bring Naked Playwriting
--Bring Guare
--Be drafting a 10 minute play from one of your pitches, or a Playbook journaling exercise or observation, the Absurdist Ultimate Playwriting Ex. etc...


Assignments due before class
:

  • Reading Reaction 2: do a 600 word, double-spaced writerly reaction (what you learn about writing) to something thought provoking in the structure, characterization, pacing, dialogue, premise/theme etc. from Six Degrees (both the film and the text), Rhinoceros, and/or from Waiting for Godot. There should be a lot to compare and contrast between the realist piece and the absurdist piece. Which one appeals to you most, and why? Upload this to Canvas Discussions.
  • Kajsa and ?? who will bring 10 copies of a draft of their Absurdist Ultimate play or one of your pitches. Be sure you upload your drafts to Canvas Discussions "Workshop Drafts Here!"
  • If you miss workshops, you are still obligated to make comments on missed items--give them to Lee first.


 

Day 11 Notes

 

 

Day 9 Lecture Notes

 

The Three Act Restorative Structure

vs.

the ch. 3 Event Grid

Sep. 29

Workshopping
Readings Due Before Class:

--Handout: Playwriting Vocabulary sheet (can help you use more technical terms to focus your peer comments).
--Handout: Lee's Commenting Guide

Assignments due before class:

  • who ?? will bring 10 copies of a draft of their monologue or a 10 minute play. Be sure you upload your drafts to Canvas Discussions "Workshop Drafts Here!"
  • Who ?? will bring 10 copies of their first 10 minute play for workshop?
  • If you miss workshops, you are still obligated to make comments on missed items--give them to Lee first.

 

Day 12 Notes

 

 

Day 10 Lecture Notes...?

 

? Essais submissions due!  
Oct. 4

Character, and Workshopping
Readings Due Before Class:

--NP bring it
--Read and write comments on Drafts--Kajsa--what kind of character details work best? Which ones seem flat? Where do you start to see a pattern of character obsessions? Can you tell what the character most wants? Where do you see possible themes or premeses coming from? Where does the characterization seem to slip? Where does the pacing seem too fast or too slow? Is there too much exposition or backstory anywhere? Is there enough distracting subtext to get in the way of too much on-the-nose dialogue (if they are trying for realism)? Is the high point of the piece a place where the character changes, or does the change happen earlier or later? Or does the character change at all? If not, does it work? If the play is going for more absurdity, does every aspect of the play point toward this?

Assignments due before class:

  • Josh will bring 10 copies of their first 10 minute play for workshop?
  • If you miss workshops, you are still obligated to make comments on missed items.


Day 13 Notes

 

 

Day 11 Lecture Notes

 

 

 

 

Oct. 6

The Ten Minute Play, Dialogue, and Workshopping
Readings Due Before Class:

--Naked Playwriting
--Read and write comments on Drafts--Josh--what kind of character details work best? Which ones seem flat? Where do you start to see a pattern of character obsessions? Can you tell what the character most wants? Where do you see possible themes or premeses coming from? Where does the characterization seem to slip? Where does the pacing seem too fast or too slow? Is there too much exposition or backstory anywhere? Is there enough distracting subtext to get in the way of too much on-the-nose dialogue (if they are trying for realism)? Is the high point of the piece a place where the character changes, or does the change happen earlier or later? Or does the character change at all? If not, does it work? If the play is going for more absurdity, does every aspect of the play point toward this?

Assignments due before class:

  • In class Ex. 5 Five Senses Bedroom (see next class period)
  • Christine and ?? will bring 10 copies of a draft of their monologue or a 10 minute play. Be sure you upload your drafts to Canvas Discussions "Workshop Drafts Here!"
 
 

Day 14 Notes

 

Day 12 Lecture Notes

 

 

Oct. 11

More on Characters and Dialogue
Readings Due Before Class:

--Handout: on Canvas Files read Ch. 2 from Playwriting: The First Workshop for a different take on analyzing and writing a basic realism-oriented play with two characters (there's also some notes about Parody).
--Watch either Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (sp15afraid) or Raisin in the Sun (sp15sun) or another in our Media Gallery, your choice.
--Read and write comments on Drafts--Christine--what kind of character details work best? Which ones seem flat? Where do you start to see a pattern of character obsessions? Can you tell what the character most wants? Where do you see possible themes or premeses coming from? Where does the characterization seem to slip?

Assignments due before class:

  • Exercise 5--practicing set details and characterization with "The 5 Senses Bedroom:" Visit the bedroom of two of your characters and see the things there through your character's eyes, ears, nose, fingers, and mouth. Examples: What do you see on the bookshelves? What do you see outside the window? What do you taste on the bedside table? What do you smell coming from the closet? Follow your details wherever they lead you, but be sure to be as concretely sensory as possible. You can also describe things in a monologue where you have your character talking about what they see, feel, taste, smell, and hear. Write everything down, but be on the lookout for good character building words, sayings, quotes, and conflict-oriented situations or pivotal moment memories for your character. Upload to Canvas Assignments by next class.
  • Michael and Steven will bring 10 copies of a draft of their monologue or a 10 minute play. Be sure you upload your drafts to Canvas Discussions "Workshop Drafts Here!"

 

Day 13 Lecture Notes

 

Twilight Zone "radio" shows

1. 6. Dialogue parody

A play where two characters talk over dinner: My Dinner With Andre where they discuss how people perform all the time (a meta moment about plays and characters); part 1; part 2;

 

Flat dialogue vs. dialogue that is active with characters that are more than props or devices...ch. 1 First Workshop

Lemonette talks about southernisms (and how we can learn more about a character from their local dialects, or the sayings they use);

Absurdist Plays (NP ch.2)--Waiting for Godot...there are more absurdist, fragmented presentations (on Canvas), and more comic presentations (with Zero Mostel); all based on ideas about God being dead, and the isolation of existentialism, and WWII mayhem and death and murder and genocide

 

Quotes on Playwriting--Arthur Miller (the complexities of real life); Ionesco (cannot invent new words, but)

7. New York Eavesdroppings
2 see the writing options on the syllabus for more information on what the writing options you can choose from this semester

1. Arthur Miller: "Well, all the plays that I was trying to write were plays that would grab an audience by the throat and not release them, rather than presenting an emotion which you could observe and walk away from."

1. Screenwriting format...Outside Play Reaction possibilities: Current UVU Theater Production:

 

??TBA? Exercise 7: "two characters and a prop" in a 10 minute piece--choose characters from Ex. 4 and 5, or choose new characters, or two characters and the prop from Playwriting: The First Workshop p. 12 in Canvas Files. The handout suggests you choose characters who are opposites. You can do a parody--if so, what will you and your characters make fun of? At least start writing dialogue to get a sense of what the characters want but are afraid of getting (afraid of having closure, for instance, which would be meta). Upload to Canvas Discussions.

Oct. 13

Structure and More Workshopping
Readings Due Before Class:

--Naked Playwriting ch. 4 (structure part 2)
--Reminder to Read plays in Touchstones in Canvas Files...
--Read and write comments on Drafts--Michael and Steven--what kind of character details work best? Which ones seem flat? Where do you start to see a pattern of character obsessions? Can you tell what the character most wants? Where do you see possible themes or premeses coming from? Where does the characterization seem to slip?

Assignments due before class:

  • Sign up for a time to see Lee...
  • Exercise 4 Character "sketches:" Write two character sketches (or more depending on what you need for your current plays) based on your current absurdist or realist play, or more brainstormed characters from classmates or your own character brainstorming. You can flesh characters based on the disection questions in NP pp. 113-114 (there are sketches in NP Appendix B p. 317+ to give you ideas--some details will seem more important and feasable for a play than others, but you should write down whatever you think of).
  • In Class Today--If you want, you can instead use Greig's Playwriting ex. 16 "Inside-Outside" idea (draw an outline of your character, then put disective/descriptive words next to each body part: The Head--obsesses over little things like the grammar of televisions hosts; or The Heart--a key emotional wound from being dumped 8 times, or their father committed suicide when they were 12). You can also use characters from your monologue who you need to know more about, other exercises, future exercises, or from any 10 minute play characters you've been or want to be working on. You can also use "characters" from your life, or from a newspaper (like Paul in Six Degrees), or you can even use yourself as inspiration for your characters (we all have multiple personas). Upload to Canvas Assignments.
  • Who ?? will bring 10 copies of a draft of their monologue or a 10 minute play. Be sure you upload your drafts to Canvas Discussions "Workshop Drafts Here!"
  • Ammon and Jessica will bring 10 copies of a draft of their monologue or a 10 minute play. Be sure you upload your drafts to Canvas Discussions "Workshop Drafts Here!"

 

 

Day 11-13 Lecture Notes

 

Day 14 Lecture Notes

 

Exposition or backstory--hiding it in conflict--see chapter 1 of Playwriting: The First Workshop with the flat dialogue between Nell and Phil, and the more loaded, character rich, expository dialogue between them p. 9-10...

Close reading using affective stylistics: expectations fulfilled or violated in the drafts we're reading...and are the violations good?

 

 

1. Watch interviews with Anna Deavere Smith (trying to find the American Iamb)

Dramaturgy for Eurydice at San Diego State University; NYTimes review from 2007. 2econdStateTheater Eurydice.

Oct. 18

Workshopping
Readings Due for Class:

--Naked Playwriting ch. 4 (structure part 2)--bring it
--Watch My Dinner with Andre on Youtube (a play about a playwrite by the auteur Louis Malle; look for the various premeses being worked with, and how characters are built, and how subtext vs. on-the-nose dialogue is used).
--Read and write comments on Drafts--Michael and Jessica--what kind of character details work best? Which ones seem flat? Where do you start to see a pattern of character obsessions? Can you tell what the character most wants? Where do you see possible themes or premeses coming from? Where does the characterization seem to slip?
--Heads Up: Theater Dept.'s Short Attention Span Theater needs submissions!

 

Assignments due to Canvas:

  • Reading Reaction 3: 600 writerly words reacting to a play in Touchstones Spring 2013, and the two plays in Touchstones Spring 2012 (these readings are in Canvas Files). We looked at the "47 Minutes" play in class thinking about each monologue in terms of Character, Backstory, and Plot being shown (and if parts are too generic or too long). Or look at Workshop Elements to Comment on Lecture, and of course anything from Naked Playwriting to help you comment. Do you notice interesting choices in the more realism-oriented pieces? What do you think of plays that are my stylized like "47 Minutes"? What do you learn about developing character in dialogue from these pieces? What do you learn about subtext? About exposition? About pivotal moments?
  • Ammon will bring 10 copies of a draft of their monologue or a 10 minute play. Be sure you upload your drafts to Canvas Discussions "Workshop Drafts Here!"

Film Analysis from Yale

Fleshing and Mixing Characters to get away from types...

Postmodernism Laundry List: today we thought more about metacinema, excess, and short circuit...

John Barth says the only original work being created now is parody (Exhaustion p. 72, "'history repeats itself as parody'"; p. 73 Baroque "borders...on it's own characature"; you can't redo Bethoven's 6th p. 69 unless it's with irony, or if it's a parody)...Humor, irony, parody...see Adaptation for postmodern, meta irony...see Shrek for parody (and postmodern meta irony)...see The Simpsons for parody (and postmodern excess)

Creativity, and Character vs. Structure...

How can you distinguish between your characters? What do we see working and not working in the drafts? Has the author thought about what their characters most want? What more do you want them to want? What do we think they want thus far?

Subtext vs. on the nose dialogue...what's important that's not quite being said?

NP pp. 142, 143 (bad dialogue)

Chekhov pp. 146

Point of attach and th 10% rule from ch. 3

Performance Art: Yoko Ono's "Cut Piece" 1964 (a comment on what? She says on the Comfort Women of WWII); and Marina Abramovic's more risky cut piece "Rhythm 0" with images and explanations with some nudity (theater without words?); the Bauhaus Stage (mixed genres and media, and silliness?); Laurie Anderson Language is a Virus (music, spoken word, media; 1984);

Much of this, including Theater of the Absurd, started with dada art (they eventually called themselves The Avant-Garde) in the early 1900's. Duchamp's "Fountain" in 1917 is a famous example of anti-art.

Ionesco's Rhinoceros by Wilder (Kafka meet dada? See my Netflix account)...

Lady Gaga (random, high camp/absurdist staging and costuming, foregrounding monsterness--the grotesque--over beauty--adopting and critiquing the fixation on dance moves): "Paparazzi" MTV 2009

 

Student Suggestion: Lynch's Inland Empire...

suggested: The IT Crowd?

Oct. 20-22 Fall Break--No Class!  
Oct. 25 & 27

Consultation Days--I will be available in my office CB410D from 11ish to 8pmish--SEE THE SIGN UP SHEET ON CANVAS ANNOUNCEMENTS. Come see me with craft and manuscript questions, and to discuss grades.

  • Be working on a longer play (realist, absurdist, satirical, postmodern), 30min-90 minutes, or 1-2-3 acts (just give us the first part, though...think in terms of using more subtext and less on-the-nose dialogue...
  • Revision #1 of Monologue or first or second workshop play due Oct 28 (choose one to revise deeply; it must have workshop comments, however). Include the monologue/play with my purple comments scanned in or turned in. Be sure it's as long as it needs to be--if you have a lot of material--multiple possible characters, narrative complexity, possible plot and subplot twists, many possible scenes--the piece will exert pressure to keep going. Due Oct. 28 at 11:59pm.

 

In Class--Exercise 7: Two Characters, and a Prop, but perhaps with The Fantastic, perhaps as a Parody--starting with the ideas from the Canvas File handout Ch. 2 from Playwriting: The First Workshop, write a scene using the techniques of Realism, or try something that deals more with The Fantastic (uncanny or marvelous/magically real; but if you do something like The Twilight Zone structure, try to have your characters feel more 3 dimensional). You can use characters from your sketches, or try out some new characters. Upload to Canvas Discussions.

Nov. 1-3 Lee was sick. No class, but work on a longer piece, and watch some plays...  
Nov. 8

Writing Longer Work and Making it New-ish
Readings Due Before Class:

--Read and write comments on peer plays: Ammon and bring back Jessica's draft.
--Watch "Smoke Signals" under Media Gallery
--Watch on Youtube Ionesco's "classic" The Bald Soprano (a short, absurdist work, an anti-play about the absurdity of learning another language that we can contrast with the realistically absurd Who's Afraid, and the tragic realISM A Raisin)--this is part 1 of 7--the other parts are on the right. You can get one with subtitles too.
--Bring Naked Playwriting

 

Assignments due to Canvas:

  • Reading Reaction 4: do 600 word writerly reaction to Doubt vs. another realism play (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf--or A Raisin in the Sun). Think about subtextual dialogue vs. on-the-nose dialogue. What do you learn about dialogue (subtext vs. on the nose), about deeper character building, about pacing? About MDQ's, and dark moments, and complications, and inciting incidents? What do you learn about rising tension? And since these are visual texts, what interesting framing and images do we get? Do you feel the camera being very purposeful in places, and more withdrawn in others? Post to Canvas Discussions by 11:59pm.
  • In Class extra credit--Exercise 6: The Subtext Scene of dialogue between two characters who are talking about something in tangential ways (perhaps choose characters from another exercise, or characters you're interested in working with, or characters from your 5 senses bedroom, or from an initial pitch or a new pitch, or from your Guided Playbook). Start their dialogue in the middle of some activity like washing dishes, cleaning out a closet, playing music, drinking, having dinner etc. What are their surface desires and core desires (that you might have discovered already)? These should only be hinted at in roundabout, non-on-the-nose ways via their speech, but also via what they avoid saying, (subtext), their use of props. You could also play with some dramatic irony where the audience knows something that the characters don't. See more details by clicking on the Assignment in Canvas. Upload to Canvas Discussions.
  • Be working on a longer play (realist, absurdist, satirical, postmodern), 30min-90 minutes, or 1-2-3 acts (just give us the first part, though...think in terms of using more subtext and less on-the-nose dialogue...
  • who?? will bring 10 copies of a draft of their monologue or a 10 minute play. Authors, be sure you upload your drafts to Canvas Discussions "Workshop Drafts Here!"

 

 

Nov. 10

Unique Characters and Humor
Readings Due Before Class:

--Naked Playwriting: ch. 9, two student plays discected--which one did you like better? Which play is better?
--Start Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

 

Assignments due to Canvas:

  • Be working on a longer play (realist, absurdist, satirical, postmodern), 30min-90 minutes, or 1-2-3 acts (just give us the first part, though...think in terms of using more subtext and less on-the-nose dialogue...

 

 

Day 14 Lecture Notes

Be working on a longer piece, or a solid 10 minute play. Should be about your obsessions, absurdist or realist or epic (see Angels or any Brecht play for epic examples).

 

Hamlet: David Tennant and Patrick Stewart in a contemporary version (and a more subtle version) that also plays with elements of Orwell's 1984: Act 1,scene 2; scene 2 cont.; scene 3; scene 4; scene 4 cont.; Act 2, scene 1; scene 2 pt. 1a (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern); scene 2 pt. 2 (friends); scene 2 pt. 3; scene 2 pt. 4; Act 3, scene 1 (Ros and Guil); scene 2 pt. 1 (the players); scene 2 pt. 2 (the play's); scene 3 (Ros and Guil to England); scene 4 pt. 1; scene 4 pt. 2; scene 5 & 6; Act 4, scene 1 pt. 1 (fragmented mirror); scene 1 pt. 2 (Laertes with gun); scene 2 & 3 (venum); Act 5, scene 1, pt. 1 (grave diggers); scene 1 pt. 2; scene 2 pt. 2;

Nov. 15

Realism, and Magic, and Critiques
Readings Due Before Class:

--Did you already watch Hamlet? Do so!
--Read and comment on ?? plays, and on ?? plays, making intelligent comments on pacing, character uniqueness, backstory, clarity, absurdity, realism, postmodern technique, plausability etc. Get extra copies on Canvas or outside LA114B.
--Handout: on Canvas Files Playwriting The First Workshop ch. 10 on character
--Handout: on Canvas Files Alternative Scriptwriting ch 9
--Handout: Postmodern Laundry List (a short list of pomo strategies in fiction that are also seen in plays and movies--methods for making it newish)
--Bring Naked Playwriting
--Keep reading Ros and Guil

 

Assignments due before class:

  • Exercise 8 (from in class): Do Not Mention Dialogue where your characters know what they need to talk about but avoid talking about it--in class dialogue exercises from last time (upload to Canvas Discussions): for two characters, write a short scene where they are by a body of water, and there is a specific conflict within them and between them, but don't really mention to conflict (write it so the audience has a bit of an idea, though). Upload to Canvas Ex. 8 Do Not Mention (you can see my quick example there).

 

Day 15 Lecture Notes

 

character exercise in class...

 

A play where two characters talk over dinner: My Dinner With Andre where they discuss how people perform all the time (a meta moment about plays and characters); part 1; part 2;

Parody and Satire (and postmodernism)! The ultimate "monologue" from Jonathan Swift "A Modest Proposal"

John Barth says the only original work being created now is parody ("Literature of Exhaustion" p. 72, "'history repeats itself as parody'"; p. 73 Baroque "borders...on it's own characature"; you can't redo Bethoven's 6th p. 69 unless it's with irony, or if it's a parody)

Humor, irony, parody...see Adaptation for postmodern meta irony and excess (starts in voice overs 4:12; description of the Orchid project 19:52 as a Hollywood movie; 55:40 the confident twin); see Shrek for parody (and postmodern meta irony); see The Simpsons: Maggie's Longest Daycare and Donut Hell for parody (and postmodern excess and political/social satire); Scary Movie and parody;

 

Close reading and affective stylistics--my expectations and violations of expectations of each word or phrase in the dialogue...

Parody (like with Scary Movie)--but are parody's more cinematic than for the stage?

Indie films like Garden State defy hollywood convention by focusing on character over plot, having existential scenes without death or mayhem, or not having sure closure (or making fun of closure); but indies also invent conventions of their own; irony as humor in indie films; indie comedies like Shawn of the Dead still follow Hollywood codes

 

Theater of the Absurd (from Theater Database)--no answers to basic existential questions

Theater of the Absurd (from NAU);

Gene Wilder's film version of Rhinoceros on Netflix...

Nov. 17

Structure and Absurdity, and Performance Theater
Readings Due Before Class:

--Be reading Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (watch Hamlet first, though--look left to see my links to the David Tennant Youtube Hamlet.)
--Naked Playwriting ch. 9 (student samples with judge's notes)
--Handout: on Canvas Files Playwriting ch. 6 dramatic devices and Stella
--Review Handout: Workshop Guide
--Handout: this synopsis of Hamlet may also be useful; the Hamlet No Fear "translation" may also be useful

 

Assignments due before class:

  • Outside Play Reaction 1 (600 words--posted to Canvas Assignments) writerly reactions to the live play you attended (good, bad, ugly; pacing, dialogue, characterization, set, MDQ, traditionality vs. postmodernity). You can watch a UVU Theater Play (or something at another theater), a SLAC play, a BYU play, or you can also watch videos in Canvas Media Gallery: A Raisin in the Sun if you didn't write about it before; Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf if you didn't write about it before; Angels in America Part 1 and 2; Olivier's Hamlet; The Crucible; Equus; Death of a Salesman; Three Sisters (Chekhov); Deathtrap (a well known who-done-it, yet more complex? ); Hangmen Also Die (Brecht, the epic theater, and the alienation effect); The Threepenny Opera (also Brecht). The library has other plays like The Glass Menagerie etc. that you can watch if you like...
  • RR4: 600 word writerly reaction to Doubt vs. another realism play (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf--or A Raisin in the Sun). See Nov. 8th for details
  • For extra credit, turn in Ex. 6 by today (another exercise about subtextual dialogue).
  • Ex. 9 the character "sketch" we thought about in class. In Class Today--If you want, you can instead use Greig's Playwriting ex. 16 "Inside-Outside" idea (draw an outline of your character, then put disective/descriptive words next to each body part: The Head--obsesses over little things like the grammar of televisions hosts; or The Heart--a key emotional wound from being dumped 8 times, or their father committed suicide when they were 12). You can also use characters from your monologue who you need to know more about, other exercises, future exercises, or from any 10 minute play characters you've been or want to be working on. You can also use "characters" from your life, or from a newspaper (like Paul in Six Degrees), or you can even use yourself as inspiration for your characters (we all have multiple personas). Upload to Canvas Assignments.
  • Kasja will bring 8 copies of a longer play for workshop. Do a dramatic reading in class, but come back with more comments for Nov. 29th.
  • Heads up: Grade your peer's workshopping in Canvas Assignments.


 

Day 16 Lecture Notes

 

Frye's Mythoi: tragedy, irony, and satire

Hamlet: David Tennant and Patrick Stewart in a contemporary version (and a more subtle version) that also plays with elements of Orwell's 1984: Act 1,scene 2; scene 2 cont.; scene 3; scene 4; scene 4 cont.; Act 2, scene 1; scene 2 pt. 1a (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern); scene 2 pt. 2 (friends); scene 2 pt. 3; scene 2 pt. 4; Act 3, scene 1 (Ros and Guil); scene 2 pt. 1 (the players); scene 2 pt. 2 (the play's); scene 3 (Ros and Guil to England); scene 4 pt. 1; scene 4 pt. 2; scene 5 & 6; Act 4, scene 1 pt. 1 (fragmented mirror); scene 1 pt. 2 (Laertes with gun); scene 2 & 3 (venum); Act 5, scene 1, pt. 1 (grave diggers); scene 1 pt. 2; scene 2 pt. 2;

Hollywood movies vs stage plays...

Reply to Ex. 6 in Canvas Discussions commenting on one piece for each of your peers. If you get auto reply names, reply to them. If not, choose one piece from your peers' Ex. 6's.

2. Slug Lines in screenplays and other formatting details

Student Suggestions Pieces of April as indie film? Even if protagonists and antagonists are traditional?

Indi Films and Texts of Bliss vs. Texts of Pleasure from Roland Barthes

Interviewing with Toughness; Anna Deavere Smith on politics in the arts...


Nov. 21-26

Thanksgiving Holliday--No Class!

 

Be sure to watch Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead in Canvas Media Gallery!

Be sure to also watch one of the screenplays, Being John Malkovich or Napoleon Dynamite, both well reviewed indie screenplays.

--Watch Hamlet (see David Tennant's Hamlet Orwellian Style in Films On Demand or Streaming Films on the library home page toward the bottom; or look on Youtube Tennent part 1; part 2; or look on PBS; the library also has Laurence Olivier's brilliant Hamlet

Be working on your Ex. 10 or 11--a satire/parody/revisionist history play or screenplay!

Day 18 Lecture Notes


1. The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.
—MURIEL RUKEYSER

Look at some of the lecture notes about absurdism and existentialism from Sept. 5th

Violating the 3 Act Restorative Structure: Holocaust, the 1978 tv miniseries has a multi-act restorative structure...the Jewish family is sort of restored in the end (sort of), and the evil Nazis die...

But theater of the absurd violates these audience expectations...if we all make our own meaning and reality, then miscommunication is a common thing, and restoration is a myth...

Postmodern theater from Wisegeek(?), David Hare's Stuff Happens etc. (Rumsfeld kept saying "Stuff happens" in 2003); Stuff Happens monologue; performance theater like that of Alex Caldiero

pomo laundry list

Crave by Sarah Kane

 

Vogler looks at the monomyth in The Matrix, Star Wars etc

Mythos of Winter--Hamlet and tragedy

More on premises from Lajos Egri--drama is emotion, but a premise is an emotion with a goal? The "frugal" character (does frugality with money lead to frugality in love? and do i want to write anything that can fit that simple idea?). The "Bitterness" list...or should plays never have an easy to state theme? Toscan's Playwriting Seminars...

What do you believe about life--your philosophy? What do you really want to say about people? And what do people really want?

Student plays cont.

1. Some regional places you can look in to when you decide to have your play developed, or read publicly with revision in mind, by a theater: Denver, Sundance Institute (at Sundance; they also used to have a Children's Theater development program) 
2. Though you may want to try contests on campus (plays are due to the Short Attention Span Theater by each January), here are some contests you may eventually enter: Kennedy American College Theater Festival (Utah is region VIII)

--Kenneth Braunaugh's Hamlet Act 3

 

Lee's Lecture Notes:
1. Pomo Laundry list

??1. Choose a character or two from one of the plays (or movies) we've read (or seen) for class, and begin writing a monologue or short dialogue, a scene, a moment that focuses outside the play (or movie) you choose. You can keep it realism-oriented, though I would like to see you play with postmodern elements.

Reading Reaction 5: 600 words about ch. 9 (and any chapter theories and quotes that apply to the plays) compared/contrasted with any of the plays we've read or watched this month. What do you think about the two student plays? Which would you have chosen as the winner and why? Why would you not choose the other one? Which judge do you think "get's it"? What would be one sentence of advice or a quote from a famous playwrite you would give to each student playwrite? Which play that you've read or watched in this class are these plays most like, or most dislike? Which published plays do a similar scene better than these student plays. Be sure to do some close reading of the text, of the dialogue. Post to Canvas Discussions.

Exercise 9: A short "Freytag's Triangle" brief event grid for Ros and Guil are Dead--here is a link to the basic definitions of what each part of the grid can discuss; here is a blank grid you can fill in for both plays (also see NP p. 75 sample event grid for 'Night Mother). In other words, fill in the Naked Playwriting "event" grid with what you think most corresponds to the inciting events/dark moments/reversals and premises.  You can also talk about how the version you are looking at violates or fulfills some of the traditional event grid elements.  See my grid notes on Six Degrees for more ideas (and questions that might help you fill in your own grid). Post to Canvas Discussions.

Nov. 29

Postmodern Plays, Screenplays, and Workshopping
Readings Due Before Class:

--Read and comment on Kajsa's play from Nov. 17th
--Watch Hamlet (see David Tennant's Hamlet Orwellian Style in Films On Demand or Streaming Films on the library home page toward the bottom; or look on Youtube Tennent part 1; part 2; or look on PBS; the library also has Laurence Olivier's brilliant Hamlet.
--Finish reading Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (the play IS the thing, the only thing??)
--Finish reading and watching Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (or try to finish)
--Read "Beyond Genre" a chapter from Alternative Scriptwriting under Canvas Files.
--Handout: "Postmodern Theater: A Manifestation of Chaos Theory?" by Raymon Saner: see avant garde theater (which focuses on the creative)
--Handout: Lee's notes about Ros and Guil and Postmodernism
--Handout: Lee's Lecture notes about Northrop Frye's 4 Mythoi (traditional narrative structures--plays off of Campbell's Monomyth)
--Naked Playwriting--return to ch. 4 on creativity and character and scenario building; also return to keeping a fertile field by writing pitches, dialogue, backstory in dialogue, try out characters (do sketches or dissections for them, or write out their quirks based on body parts), think about themes/premeses, and "What If...?"



Assignments due before class:

 
  • Exercise 10, (or choose Ex. 11--see below): a revisionist play/scene based on another famous play or famous text that you then tell from another POV, or with a different set of lenses, or with different circumstances, or a different premise, or a different outcome or climax, or as a satire or parody (that isn't simply entertaining comedy)--the point of a revisionist text is more than mere comedy; it's there to make us question traditional (Cartesian/Realist) expectations and meaning in terms of identity, culture, narrative etc. (10-20 pages max, screenplay format). You can choose to revise or parody a fairy tale, a movie, another play, a poem, a novel etc. Or you can write a satire of something in our culture that you want to look at ironically and critically. Upload to Canvas Discussions.
  • or Exercise 11 (or choose Ex. 10, see above): For your satire/parody/revisionist play, you can actually write it as a screenplay instead. The start of a screenplay, or a scene from a screenplay etc. (10-20 pages max, screenplay format), but I want you to especially work on working against genre like the Alternative Screenwriting handout in Canvas Files discusses  Are you going to try a short film that revises/works against the western?  The alien movie?  The horror movie? Often just having a character-based work goes against genres.  Your structure can follow a mini "three act restorative structure" or a Freytag's Triangle, or you can work more against genre plot structures as well.  Upload to Canvas Discussions. Laura and Rocio will bring 9 copies of a new play for next classes' workshop (and upload to Canvas).
  • Josh will bring 8 copies of a new play for next classes' workshop (and upload to Canvas). No more than 30 pages. Must be character-based. Could be a play or a screenplay.

 

 

Day 17 Lecture Notes

 

Lee's Lecture Notes:
Subtext and Chekhov NP p.

Freytags Triangle Event Grids and 10 minute plays (angle of attack; climax; denoument and resolution)

 

Hamlet Orwellian Style (Tennent part 1; part 2) ...Hamlet is kind of a modern character who doesn't start as a hero, and has a lot of existential nausea and paralysis...

Plato's Cave kind of feels like the set of Godot in both versions: waiting and waiting for what? Nothing? Why not hang ourselves 9min. (in Mostel version)

Satire and Swift and Colbert...has a political, critical agenda; both use excess, but both also use realism and thus can be misread

Comedy parody like Scary Movie...also makes fun of Swimsuit Photo Shoots; antinomianism; "pokes" fun at fake breasts

Ros and Guil, Estragon and Vladimir, Abbot and Costello (existential clowns);  notes Absurdism and Existentialism on ros and guil; the mobius strip of eternal repetition

Postmodernism in a nutshell or two...and see past notes about parody...

 

 

local and Salt Lake theater going on now...

 

Gibson's Hamlet (To Be or Not...)

Frye's Mythoi and tradition


Student Samples and their judges...which fits your reading sensibilities best and why?

3. Blind Dates...and Christopher Durang's Beyond Therapy; another Beyond Therapy

1. Arthur Miller: "I'm the end of the line; absurd and appalling as it may seem, serious New York theater has died in my lifetime."  That's spelled E-G-O-T-I-S-M, but what do you think he's lamenting?

Improv--Story Telling I and II exercise to help build spontaneity.

Opposites (going from one strong emotion to another in 10 minutes, 1 scene)

 

Arrest me (10 line exercise to capture the audience); The Living End (write the last pages of a conflict between two people).

Day 19 Lecture Notes

 


Absurdist notes...and differences between existential self determination and postmodern loss of free will (see the Ros and Guil GradeSaver in Kindle); solipsism vs deconstruction theory

Ros and Guil Film: with the sandwich building; with Players being meta about plays; with King and Queen...they are baffled about their sudden insertion into the court at 22 min. (suddenly speaking iambic pentameter)--the king and queen also can't tell them apart; Ros's discoveries 43:10; meeting up with Hamlet 45:37 like old friends even though they've been wondering what's going on with Hamlet's plot earlier;

3. R & G--alienation effect? certainly not letting us suspend our disbelief, but also not giving us a desire to change the world (as with Brecht; p. 49-50 NP)

 

Absurdist theater and Satire...(Frye's Mythos of Winter with a comic bent)

 

 

Think about modern linguistics where eventually Derrida says everything is language/signifiers, and there is no access to a non-linguistic space--like the real/ideal of Plato's Cave--without language...and language is very slippery (Scholes linguistic theory change chart)

...more on my existential absurdist works lecture (Plato's Cave as a metaphor for human existence, but one where God exists, where there is something real/ideal, and where all we see are shadows--are these shadows like signifiers?); and Postmodernism (pomo laundry list of literary techniques used to disrupt narrative, identity, the premis/MDQ, theme, closure); mobius strip or M.C. Escher's "Relativity" style staging

Ros and Guil are like Becket but also like Abbot and Costello's "Who's on First" (which Lee thinks is rather absurd especially in 1945; but even Becket loved him some clowns)

1. notes Absurdism and Existentialism on ros and guil

2. oops...film was made in 1990!

 

Arrest me (on their web page it's ex. 3)--10 lines of dialogue at the beginning of a new play that can most represent you (if these were your last lines of writing, ever), and grab your reader's/judges' attention (say, for a contest or production dramaturg). This can be realist or absurdist. Post to Canvas Discussions....Be working on a second play (our goal is to have 20+ pages of play or screenplay by the end of the semester; your final will be a deep revision of one of your workshop plays)...

Dec. 1 

The Postmodern Play--Meta Hamlet, And Scenarios (Another Structural Approach); Magical Realism, and Screenplays...
Readings Due Before Class:

--Peer play: read and make comments on Josh's play.
--Watch Napoleon Dynomite or Being John Malkovich in Canvas Course Media
--Bring Ros & Guil
--Bring Naked Playwriting
--Handout in Canvas Files:altscriptch9againstgenre.pdf (this covers many ways to undercut traditional codes in genre films like Westerns)
--Handout: online, screenwriting glossary (vs. playwriting vocabulary)

 

Assignments due before class:

  • Michael, Christine, will bring 8 copies of a new play for next classes' workshop (and upload to Canvas); we will have a short reading, then workshop as much as we can--LEAVE ROOM FOR SOME DRAMATIC READING.

 

Announcements:

  • All late work is due tomorrow, Friday!
  • Complete UVLink course evaluation!

 

 

Day 20 Lecture Notes

Postmodernism similar but also different than absurdism; pomo laundry list strategies suggests that excess (excess of time shifts is common in Modernism and Mrs. Dalloway; excessive flattening of perspective is common in cubism like Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase vs. impressionism from Monet; parody, metafiction (metatheater) are more commonly pomo.

Mentioned NP ch. 2 Expressionism--stylized, dreamy, not realism (Napoleon Dynomite? Sometimes)

Abbott and Costello parodied/homaged in Ros and Guil (which is pomo)

Hamlet: there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so--Ros and Guil 47:27

Looking at themes in Ros and Guil (even absurdist plays have the glue of themes giving them heft, themes like fate, randomness, origins, science, life, being/ontology, meaning, meaninglessness etc.)

Noticing some aspects of screenplays with Napoleon Dynomite...(starts at 3:36min)--slug points, Interior and Exterior, location, and time; many scene changes and fast cuts; doing story boarding; atmospheric/setting shots; music; scenes without dialogue...

 

Arrest me exercises!

Absurdist exercises!

Harold Pinter 1 Act play The Dumb Waiter

 

the fantastic (T. Todorov):
the uncanny vs the marvelous; the uncanny is when supernatural things happen in a story that can then be explained by "natural" law (R. Bass); the marvelous is when supernatural things happen in a story without explanations, yet they give off the feel of being "normal" (G. Garcia Marquez)

pomo laundry list of literary techniques used to disrupt narrative, identity, the premis/MDQ, theme, closure

with Angels in America (revisionist history with Roy Cohn, not so marvelous with the appearance of the angel, characters appearing in each others dreams...the marvelous); Being John Malkovich (start with puppets, street puppetiering, 71/2 floor, the secret room with a tunnel); Ros and Guil

 

1. Screenwriting format...

Film Analysis from Yale

 

Screenwriting: High concept : (A. S.) started with Star Wars in terms of demand—where plot is everything, the foreground story is central—pulls us forward in a linear fashion

  • If you have no character, you’ll end up with something that doesn’t bring the viewer in…how audiences want to somehow relate
  • Perhaps special effects can get around this, but not usually
  • Be careful of predictability problems?

low (or soft) concept—focuses on character, focuses on background story or emotionality; perhaps can also focus on atmospherics…powasquatsi

avoiding predictability is easier when there’s a focus on the internal space of a character…something less obviously linear, so there’s more room for discovery (surprise)

  • of course, if you have less focus on plot, your dialogue better be incredibly witty, or smart, or fast, or revealing, or shocking
  • run lola run
  • my dinner with andre

--Naked Playwriting Ch. 4??
--
Handout: Lee thinks about Scenario Building
??

Dec. 2 Fri  All late work is due today!  

Dec. 6 

Pomo Screenplays, and Revising
Readings Due Before Class:

--Peer Plays: read and comment on Michael's and Christine's plays--LEAVE ROOM FOR COLD READINGS
--Bring Naked Playwriting
--Be sure you have watched either Being John Malkovich or Napoleon Dynamite and Smoke Signals by next class period in Canvas Course Media--notice what they are doing in terms of screen writing.
--Read a few pages of the Napoleon Dynamite shooting script in Canvas Files under Screenplay Samples


Assignments Due:

  • If we need more time for Josh, take it.
  • Ammon and Jessica will bring 8 copies of a new play for next classes' workshop (and upload to Canvas); we will have a short reading, then workshop as much as we can.
  • Sign up for a consultation!
  • Complete UVLink course evaluation!

 

Day 21 Lecture Notes

 

More from the Pomo Laundry list: more on excess, dehumanization (and dystopic TV, Hunger Games), short circuit and Donald Barthelme's "Capitalism"; more on excess; pastiche and The Simpsons (Maggie's daycare episode does a collage of parodies: the TSA, Ayn Rand, murder mysteries and film noirs, Frida Kahlo's eyebrows, little orphan Annie, art/dada--smashed butterfly on wall with suddenly drawn frame etc).

Maggie at daycare also shows us a short film without dialogue, but with characterization...

Satire and the movie Network (1977--the concept it satirizes: entertainment TV might take over the news division)...satire is often excessive, yet realism oriented enough to fool people: starts with Howard's ratings (numbers are his identity, a Pomo theme), then with Holden and Beal drunk, telling stories, foreshadowing what is to come with the merger of New and Entertainment ("suicide of the week); 22:57 Dunaway the entertainment producer hears pitches; 13:18 Dunaway is introduced, wants anger and terrorism in their programming; 43:00 Howard is allowed on the air again getting raitings and the Holden lets it happen; Howard wet in his jammies--"I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" 53:13--a great scene with a gradually rising cacophony of man people, but also lightening to add metaphorical messages;

Godot doesn't satirize, and it's excess is mainly in miscommunications and memory problems...it's excess can be funny, but it's not as excessive as Barthelme...

 

Day 23 Lecture Notes

 

Show and tell screenplays:

1. Malkovich and character; p. 1, 7, 15, 44
2. Is it high or low concept? It does have a fast pace and a lot of action for an indie or low concept film...
3. Tarrantino and Pulp Fiction Hight Concept and Character Dev. (stop before 3:30 unless you want to see one of the bloodiest, but funny?, scenes)
4. NP p. 126 on character flaws...what do we see in Malkovich

Day 24 Lecture Notes

 

Show and tell

1. Napoleon Dynamite Trailer
2. Watching character in
Malkovich

Looking at character and absurdity in both films; slug points in screenplays, scenes without dialogue, and shot changes that aren't in the script;

how does Dynamite differ from typical high school nerd movies? how does Malkovich differ from typical speculative films?

Magical realism in Malkovich? When the woman helps the pupetteer access the 71/2 floor with a crowbar shuved into the middle of the elevator doors--she doesn't think anything is strange, and no one on the half floor thinks it's strange to bend over while walking

??and Learning from Dramatic Readings

 

Dec. 8

Screenplays, Revision, and Workshopping, and Consultations
Readings Due Before Class:

--Read and Comment on Peer Plays: Ammon and Jessica
--Naked Playwriting: ch. 8 (rewriting and development)
--NP ch. 10 and appendix A (on what to do when you're finished)
--Handout: on Canvas Files--Alternative Scriptwriting ch. 24 (rewriting)
--Before today, watch Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead in Course Media

Assignments due before class:

  • Upload links to your favorite screenplays/movies or plays
  • Steven and will bring 8 copies of a new play for today's workshop (and upload to Canvas)--we will have a short reading, then workshop as much as we can.
  • Sign up for a consultation!
  • Complete UVLink course evaluation!

 

Day 22 Lecture Notes

writing against genre

Show and tell plays and screenplays:

Austin: Fight Club

Christine: Olympus Has Fallen (Netflix; pdf--see Canvas Files)

Gavin: It's Kind of a Funny Story (pdf--see Canvas Files)

Robyne: Wit (youtube)

Lindsey: Sherlock (British TV; on Netflix; pdf--see Canvas Files)

Steve: The Guild (youtube)

 

Lee's Lecture Notes:
Screenwriters and Auteurs: Charlie Kaufman Master Class; Kaufman's Adaptation; the Coen brothers; the Hess's; Nick Kazan (and his IMDB); Tarrantino and Jackie Brown (the blacksploitation film) vs. Kill Bill I (the parody/pastiche homage to Bruce Lee Asian kung fu action capers)...

Smoke Signals and the realISM of the Buddy Film and Road Trip genres...(yet it's still an indie film--why?)

Satire and The Onion...too often their stories end up reported as fact because they use elements from The Real, and they use realism as a technique (like this Zimmerman article, though the F word is a clue)...some of their articles are more speculative, or more postmodern, or more obviously jokey (or all three)

Satire is there to skewer the ridiculou in our real world...

Colbert in the Senate, and satire without the laugh track...

When characters talk over each other: Crave by Sarah Kane--each character talks over the others from very different places; Lett's August: Osage County (Kindle location 1633, and scenes before that where people are talking over each other, yet it's still cause/effect or realistically oriented)

Bricolage: collages of already created stuff that creates something new (also see Pastiche)

Think about Todorov with todays student plays:

  • the fantastic (T. Todorov):
    the uncanny vs the marvelous; the uncanny is when supernatural things happen in a story that can then be explained by "natural" law (R. Bass); the marvelous is when supernatural things happen in a story without explanations, yet they give off the feel of being "normal" (G. Garcia Marquez? vs. Magical Realism vs. Fantasy and Magic vs. Surrealism)

resevoir dogs: high concepts meet low concepts--violence with a focus on character; tipping scene; commentary on stomach shot to mr. orange

?--Handout: Lee's notes about screenplays and the specific texts above

??optional for extra credit? A Scenario/plot points/outline due for another of your previous pitches or a new pitch (upload these "plot points" to Blackboard).  I would like the focus to be for a second 10-15 minute play (or screenplay that has dialogue), thus the scope, scenes, characters, set etc. should be restricted (see NP p. 105-108 for a sample scenario, and my lecture notes).

??when??Consultation Day??--I will be available in my office LA 114B most of the day (from 9:30AMish-3:00PMish, and after 7pm), but I do want to have people come based on times they sign up for. Bring a manuscript with comments from workshop, or a new play you want me to look at (like Story 3, or the beginning pages of a story you aren’t going to workshop).

If you come after 5pm, enter through LA 111, or call my office 801-863-8785. Please email me if you know you are coming to see me (if everyone wants to see me, I will have to have a sign up schedule so check email for more information), or just drop by.

Dec. 9 Reading Day and consultations  

Dec. 10

Sat.

 

Assignments Due:

  • Reading Reaction 5: 300 words, so focus! One on a play/screenplay you din't do for extra credit (Smoke Signals, Napoleon Dynomite, Being John Malkovich, or Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, or a combination of two of these (but you only have 300 words--focus on a very tight idea and a single scene or two). What are you learning about writing from these? What are you learning about lighting and locations and the use of cheap effects?
  • Be sure you've uploaded all of Lee's workshop comments for your revision 2 due to to Canvas Assignments Dec. 12.
  • All Extra Credit is due (like a 600 word reaction to My Word Dec. 8th 6:30pm, or another play or movie from Canvas Course Media (see below RR5)! You can also think about comparisons to Godot and Hamlet, and differences you found in the movie version vs. what you read. Upload to Canvas Discussions. Upload to Canvas Assignments Extra Credit. You can also have 5 visits to the writing lab, or up to 2 outside film reactions--if you don't see a place to put these in Canvas, email them with Extra Credit 1, or 2, or 3 etc. in the subject line.
  • Complete UVLink course evaluation!
  • Be sure Lee has received your grade justification letter in Canvas Assignments (to Canvas Assignments; what grade should you be getting in the class based on writing ability, revising ability, workshopping comments, readings and reactions completed on time, improvement, and overall commitment? Also think about how this fits, or doesn't fit, your Canvas grade percentages).

 

Reading Reaction 6: 600 words about Malkovich or Dynamite or R&G (the films and their textual counterparts--uploaded to Canvas Assignments); I've also added the option of writing about Smoke Signals if you can find the script (or turn that in for extra credit).

Dec. 12

Monday

 

Lee will have consultations in her office--see announcements--No Class since this is finals week: I will be meeting with students in my office C410d. SEE THE SIGN UP SHEET UNDER CANVAS ANNOUNCEMENTS, or email me when you are coming and I'll tell you what's available. Come during your sign up time to to talk about your argument, so bring your outline and/or draft.

 

Assignments Due Finals Week:

  • Revision #2 of a play or screenplay, something longer than your first plays. Due to Canvas Assignments by 11:59pm. Be sure to upload Lee's workshop comments to Canvas Assignments as well.
  • Be sure to have a grade justification letter submitted to Canvas Assignments due on Sat.
  • If you haven't uploaded your peers' workshop comment grades, be sure to do so! And be sure you've uploaded all of Lee's workshop comments for any of your revisions to Canvas Assignments.
  • Complete UVLink course evaluation!

 

 
Dec. 15

Last day to upload to or check Canvas.

Be sure you check email for any missing assignments over the next few weeks.

 

 

Last Update: Tuesday, December 6, 2016 3:43 PM