Playwriting KICK- START. Sample Pages. by Lindsay Price

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1 Playwriting KICK- START by Lindsay Price

2 Playwriting Kick-Start Copyright 2013 Lindsay Price & Theatrefolk CAUTION: This book is fully protected under the copyright laws of Canada and all other countries of the Universal Copyright Convention. No part of this book covered by the copyrights hereon may be reproduced or used in any form or by any means - graphic, electronic or mechanical - without the prior written permission of the author. Published by: Theatrefolk PO Box 1064 Crystal Beach, ON, L0S 1B0 Canada Tel Fax website: Photocopying / Multiple Copies The one owner of this book may copy the Student Handouts for his or her class for educational purposes. All other forms of duplication and/or distribution are prohibited.

3 About the Author Lindsay Price is the resident playwright for Theatrefolk. She has written over 50 plays for the youth market and averages over 400 productions a year in schools across Canada, the US and overseas. She works regularly with student playwrights, teaching playwriting workshops in the classroom, at festivals and conferences. Recent highlights include being invited to teach at the 2013 IDEA conference in Paris, France, acting as a playwright dramaturg for the Playworks Program at the International Thespian Festival, and being an invited guest speaker for Drama in Education students at Brock University. Playwriting KICK-START 3

4 Welcome to Playwriting Kick-Start! It happens all the time. Students are asked to write and they freeze. I can t. I m not creative. I can t. I don t know where to start. I can t. I have no ideas. I can t. My ideas are stupid. The purpose of this project is to provide a step-by-step process for students all students, regardless of writing ability to move from finding a topic, to creating ideas, to moving their idea toward a finished product. In this ebook you will find: Frequently Asked Questions A detailed outline of the project Student instruction text In-class exercises and submission requirements for each lesson Rubrics for each lesson Quizzes and Answer Keys This course is designed to reach as many class configurations as possible: You can lead this project with a class where all the assignments are completed with pen and paper. It can be used as an independent study. Students can read the lesson sheets on their own, or be taught by you. Determine what is best for you and your students. If you can t get students together to share their work (e.g. an independent study project) don t worry. The aim is to get students writing and to feel confident in their ability to write. If that s happening, wonderful! Playwriting KICK-START 4

5 Project Procedure There are four parts to Playwriting Kick-Start: Intro/Lesson One: An introduction and a new definition of the word idea. Lesson Two: Topic areas and the step-by-step idea process. Lesson Three: What makes an idea theatrical? Lesson Four: Moving from idea to the first scene. Lessons For each lesson there is: Instruction: All instruction is included in this ebook. They can either be read aloud by you or printed off for the students to read themselves. Quiz: Use the quizzes to assess the students comprehension of the material. In-Class Exercises: These exercises allow students to put the concepts into practice immediately. Submission Guidelines: Each lesson has a submission that comes either from the in-class exercise or from an additional task such as a journal prompt. Rubrics are supplied for each submission. Extra Assignments: Extra Assignments are optional and allow students to develop their skills further. Playwriting KICK-START 5

6 Frequently Asked Questions I don t feel comfortable teaching playwriting, how do I evaluate assignments? Rubrics are supplied for each submission. The rubrics focus on effort and execution, and steer clear of any notion of talent. If students follow the steps and accomplish all that is asked of them, they will score highly on their rubric. It s important to emphasize that effort and execution are rewarded, especially for students who feel insecure about writing. Would you give feedback to my students? Can students ask questions of Lindsay? The Platinum Level of Playwriting Kick-Start does just that. At the Platinum Level, you and your students have personal access to a professional playwright! Students can ask questions or approach Lindsay for suggestions. Lindsay also will give individual feedback and constructive criticism on any finished play. Both the Platinum and Online versions of Playwriting Kickstart come with video and online supplementals. You can learn more about these options at theatrefolk.com/kickstart What if I lose my PDF file? Save the receipt from your purchase. It contains instructions on how to retrieve your PDF download. If you lose your receipt, send an to and we ll help you out. Playwriting KICK-START 6

7 Lesson One: What is an idea? Where do I look?

8 Lesson One: What is an idea? Where do I look? LESSON ONE: What is an idea? Where do I look? INTRODUCTION The Introduction is the first section of Lesson One. Hand out the Introduction text before starting. The student handout always follows the teacher instruction in this ebook. It s marked with a green border. The Introduction explains what students will learn during Playwriting Kick-Start, the scope of the course, and most importantly the value of using a warm-up before every exercise. Warm-ups are explained in detail in the first lesson. On subsequent days, simply start the class with the applicable warm-up instruction. Warm-ups Purpose: To explore the three elements that fight writer s block. Ease into writing: Practice the act of writing. Get words on the page: Practice writing without stopping. Practice the genre: Monologue and Dialogue. There are always two warm-ups for each lesson. Automatic Writing Topic Prompts Students are given a topic and a time limit. Their job is to write on the topic for the entire time limit (two minutes) without stopping or lifting their pen from the page. The aim of the exercise is to keep writing, to write without overthinking, to write without criticism or judgement, to focus on the act of writing, not the content. Playwriting KICK-START 8

9 Lesson One: What is an idea? Where do I look? If they get stuck, they write about being stuck. If they don t like the topic, they write about that. If they repeat the same sentence over and over again to keep the pen moving, that s fine. Act over content. Monologue/Dialogue Students write either a monologue or dialogue based on a given suggestion. Clarify the definitions of Monologue and Dialogue, particularly if you re working with young writers. Monologue: One character speaking in the first person (I and me, as opposed to he said/she said). The character can be alone on stage speaking to the audience or they can be speaking to another character. Dialogue: A conversation between two or more characters. Dialogue format differs between plays and novels or short stories. There are no quotation marks, nor is he said/she said used. Dialogue is written out following a capitalized character name like this: DOUG: Hey Jimmy! Did you see the game last night? Playwriting KICK-START 9

10 Lesson One: What is an idea? Where do I look? Welcome to Playwriting Kick-Start! Playwriting Kick-Start is a playwriting project that focuses on ideas. What is a good idea for a play? Where do I look for ideas? I want to write but where do I start? What if my ideas are no good? How do I come up with ideas that don t suck and will actually turn into plays? Playwriting Kick-Start will answer all these questions and more! In this project you will learn: The true definition of a play idea. Where to look for ideas. How to generate source material for ideas. How to come up with more ideas than you need. What makes an idea theatrical. How to move an idea toward a first draft. But First The most important aspect of writing is getting words on the page. Writer s block happens when writers criticize or self-judge what they want to write before it exists. They stop themselves at the thinking stage. It s easy to think you re a bad writer when there s no writing going on. The only enemy the writer has is the blank page. If there s something on the page, it can be changed. It can be crossed out. It can be expanded upon. A blank page leaves you nothing to work with. Playwriting KICK-START 10

11 Lesson One: What is an idea? Where do I look? How do I fight the blank page? Ease into writing. Start with a Warm-up Before you write with purpose (e.g. writing a play in class) start with a warm-up. Don t dive in the deep end right away ease into writing. Practice the act of writing. The act of writing is just as important as the content. Get words on the page The best way to become a better writer is to do it. Write. Get words on the page. Don t worry if they re the right words or the perfect words. That s another way to get writer s block deciding that your writing isn t good enough before it even lands on the page. Practice taking the words in your head and writing them down without judgment, without overthinking, without stopping. Practice the Genre Write monologues and dialogues. Want to become a better novelist? Practice writing descriptions. Want to become a better songwriter? Practice writing choruses. Want to become a better playwright? Practice writing monologues and dialogues. Think about this in terms of the athlete. The runner who competes in the 100 meter dash doesn t wake up and decide on a whim to try out for the Olympics. They practice. They get their feet moving over and over again. They work their muscles. Same with writing. Only the muscle in question is the brain. Playwriting KICK-START 11

12 Lesson One: What is an idea? Where do I look? WARM UP LESSON ONE Automatic Writing This warm-up is going to help you practice getting words on the page. You re going to get a topic and a time limit. Your job is to write for the entire time. If you get stuck, write about that. If you don t like the topic, write about that. It is the act of writing that is important here, not the content. Topic: What Makes You Happy. Time: 2 minutes. Monologue Now you re going to write a monologue. A monologue is one person speaking (in the first person) to someone, to themselves, to the audience. The character in this monologue is saying goodbye to one of their organs Heart, Liver, Spleen, Kidney, Pancreas. Start the monologue with, Goodbye my dear Choose an organ, choose a reason for the organ to leave. Don t stop writing! Topic: A character saying goodbye to an organ. Time: 2 minutes. Playwriting KICK-START 12

13 Lesson One: What is an idea? Where do I look? LESSON ONE: What is an idea? Where do I look? PART ONE Hand out the instruction text. This is a quick exercise where students finish the same sentence starter (It would be interesting if ) five times, five different ways. Example It would be interesting if I could mute my brother. It would be interesting if I could fly. It would be interesting if school was five minutes long. It would be interesting if it were hot in December. It would be interesting if people said what they really thought. Once they ve completed the exercise, have students choose one of their sentences and read them out to the class. It s amazing how many different endings come from the same sentence. Playwriting KICK-START 13

14 Lesson One: What is an idea? Where do I look? LESSON ONE: What is an Idea? Where Do I look? Write this down: It would be interesting if This, obviously, is the beginning of a sentence. You are now going to end this sentence five times, five different ways. It would be interesting if It would be interesting if It would be interesting if It would be interesting if It would be interesting if Examples It would be interesting if I could mute my brother. It would be interesting if it was cold in July and hot in December. Once you ve finished completing the sentences, circle one. Share it with the class. Playwriting KICK-START 14

15 Lesson One: What is an idea? Where do I look? LESSON ONE: What is an idea? Where do I look? PART TWO Hand out the instruction text. Surprise! They just came up with ideas. This segment details a new definition of the word idea. Many students fear writing because they have a preconceived notion of what an idea is, which sets themselves up for failure when that notion doesn t come to fruition. This segment introduces three topic areas: Observation, Emotions, and Issues/Events. We start by generating source material on a topic, and create ideas from that source material. In-Class Exercise Purpose: To introduce students to the first topic area, and introduce one method of generating source material. Observation is to regard people places and things in an overtly specific manner. Students will apply this concept with a Place Observation. This observation has three parts: Students spend five minutes observing the classroom like a writer. Encourage them to look around the room as described: Look up when others look down. Look behind, underneath, around. Looking for patterns, colours, textures. Observe something that you ve never noticed before. Students record their observations, getting into the habit of putting words on the page. I never noticed that stain on the ceiling before and the room looks more rundown than some of my other classes. Playwriting KICK-START 15

16 Lesson One: What is an idea? Where do I look? Based on the observation, students write down a question they have about the room. What caused that stain in the ceiling? Specific writing. Students describe the room using the five senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. Yes, they must use taste. Remind students that this doesn t have to be something obvious. Dust has a taste. Perfume has a taste. Dryness has a taste. Despair has a taste. The room looks colourful, because of all the props and costumes. The room sounds like a dull roar, there s a vent that always seems on. The room smells and tastes musty. The room feels damp, kind of heavy. Playwriting KICK-START 16

17 Lesson One: What is an idea? Where do I look? LESSON ONE: What is an Idea? Where Do I look? Congratulations! You ve just come up with five ideas. Human beings are idea makers. We naturally come up with ideas every day. You re sitting in the doctor s office. It s taking a long time and you think, What are they doing in there? I wonder if it s illegal? That s an idea. Is it a play? Who knows. And frankly, who cares? Here s why: Ideas Are Not Plays The notion that Idea=Play is a misconception. Ideas are NOT fully-formed sparkly packages. Ideas are NOT perfect. Ideas NEVER come out of the brain ready to be turned into a play. So, what are ideas? Ideas are thoughts. Ideas are fragments. Ideas are questions. Ideas are small. Ideas are sentences. Ideas are A on the way to Z. Ideas are starting points. So where do we start? Where do you look for ideas? Where do you find topics? Playwriting KICK-START 17

18 Lesson One: What is an idea? Where do I look? We re going to look at three topic areas: Observations. Emotions. Issues/Events. Observation Writers often use observation to find ideas. Observation is not just looking around. To observe like a writer is to regard people, places, and things in an overtly specific manner. Looking up when others look down. Looking behind, underneath, around. Looking for patterns, colours, textures. Observing something that you ve never noticed before. Looking for something that makes you ask a question. In-Class Exercise Place Observation Spend five minutes observing your classroom like a writer. Write down your observations. Write one sentence that summarizes your observations. Based on your observation, write down one question you have about the room. Practice writing in a specific manner describe the room in one paragraph using the five senses: sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. The senses are a great starting point for idea building. You must use taste. Before you start licking the floor, think outside the box. Dust has a taste. Perfume has a taste. Dryness has a taste. Despair has a taste. Now that you ve gathered all this source material, what do you do with it? How do you make an idea out of this? That s where we ll start the next lesson. Playwriting KICK-START 18

19 Lesson One Quiz 1. What does Playwriting Kick-Start focus on? Lesson One: What is an idea? Where do I look? 2. The most important aspect of writing is. 3. What is the only enemy of the writer? 4. How do you fight the blank page? 5. The act of writing is just as important as the. 6. To become a better playwright practice writing. 7. Ideas are (list three things) 8. Ideas are not (list two things) 9. To observe like a writer is to regard. Playwriting KICK-START 19

20 Lesson One: What is an idea? Where do I look? Lesson One Quiz Answer Key 1. What does Playwriting Kick-Start focus on? Ideas 2. The most important aspect of writing is getting words on the page. 3. What is the only enemy of the writer? The blank page. 4. How do you fight the blank page? Ease into writing, start with warm-ups. Get words on the page. Practice the genre. 5. The act of writing is just as important as the content. 6. To become a better playwright practice writing monologues and dialogues. 7. Ideas are Can be any three of: Ideas are thoughts Ideas are questions Ideas are small 8. Ideas are not Can be any two of: Ideas are NOT plays Ideas are not fully formed ideas sparkly packages. Ideas are fragments Ideas are sentences Ideas are A on the way to Z Ideas are NOT perfect. Ideas never come out of the brain ready to be turned into a play. 9. To observe like a writer is to regard people, places and things in an overtly specific manner. Playwriting KICK-START 20

21 Lesson One: What is an idea? Where do I look? LESSON ONE Submission Here s what you will submit for Lesson One Write and submit a self-reflection journal entry. One paragraph. What you think of yourself as a writer? Do you think you re creative? Do you like or dislike writing? Do you think you could ever become better at writing? Submit the three-part source material (one sentence, one question, and your descriptive paragraph) from your Place Observation. Extra Assignment Repeat the Place Observation exercise but this time observe your walk to and from school. Observe your route as a writer. Write down your observation. One sentence. Based on your observations, write down one question. This time, make up an answer to your question. Remember, this is fiction and not fact. The possibilities for your answer are endless. One paragraph. Playwriting KICK-START 21

22 Lesson One Submission Students will submit: A journal entry. Lesson One: What is an idea? Where do I look? The three-part source material (One sentence, One question, descriptive paragraph) from the Place Observation. What am I looking for? A journal entry that answers the questions in a thoughtful manner. Do they write in full sentences or in one word answers? Do they only answer a couple of the questions, or do they not address the questions at all? One sentence, one question, and a descriptive paragraph (that addresses all the senses) from the Place Observation. Are all these parts included or is there something missing? Is the descriptive paragraph in full sentences or point form? Is the source material exactly what was asked for? Does it go beyond the requirements of the assignment? Assessment Journal Rubric Source Material Rubric Extra Assignments: There are a couple of extra assignments in the project. They can be optional or used to give additional marks to students. Playwriting KICK-START 22

23 Lesson One SELF-REFLECTION JOURNAL RUBRIC Lesson One Self-Reflection Journal Rubric Name: Comprehension: Do you understand what you have been asked to do? Connections: Do you understand how these personal questions connect to class activities? Commitment to Work: How are you presenting your self-reflection? Conventions: Are you paying attention to grammar and spelling? Thorough understanding of the task to write a selfreflection journal entry. Goes beyond requirements. Thorough understanding of connections between personal experience and class activities. Goes beyond requirements. Detailed, thoughtful reflection completed in full sentences with clean organization. Goes beyond requirements. Thorough attention paid to correct grammar and spelling. Overall Effort Excellent, thoughtful selfreflection. Solid understanding of the task to write a self-reflection journal entry. Meets requirements. Solid understanding of connections between personal experience and class activities. Meets requirements. Solid reflection, completed in full sentences with clean organization. Meets requirements. One or two errors in grammar and spelling. Some understanding of the task to write a self-reflection journal entry. Meets most requirements. Satisfactory understanding of connections between personal experience and class activities. Meets most requirements. Satisfactory reflection completed in full sentences. Some organization issues and missing some detail. A few errors in grammar and spelling. Little understanding of the task to write a self-reflection journal entry. Meets few requirements. Little connection made between personal experience and class activities. Meets few requirements. Commitment to work is superficial with sloppy organization and limited details. Many errors in grammar and spelling. Solid self-reflection. Satisfactory self-reflection. Self-reflection needs work. Playwriting KICK-START 23

24 Lesson One SOURCE MATERIAL RUBRIC Lesson One Source Material Rubric Name: Comprehension: Do you understand what you have been asked to do? Commitment to Work: How are you presenting your material? Conventions: Are you paying attention to grammar and spelling? Thorough understanding of the task. The three parts of the source material are completed with much attention to detail. Thorough and thoughtful attention to presentation. Submission is organized and goes beyond the requirements. Thorough attention paid to correct grammar and spelling Overall Effort Excellent source material submission. Solid understanding of the task. The three parts of the source material are completed with some attention to detail. Solid attention to presentation. All the elements are organized within the requirements. One or two errors in grammar and spelling. Solid source material submission. Satisfactory understanding of the task. The three parts of the source material are completed. Satisfactory attention to presentation. Submission is mostly organized. Meets most requirements. A few errors in grammar and spelling. Satisfactory source material submission. Comprehension needs work. The three parts of the source material are incomplete. A lack of attention to presentation. Submission is incomplete, and dis-organized. Many errors in grammar and spelling. Effort needs work. Playwriting KICK-START 24

25 Thanks for Reading! That s it This is the end of the free sample pages from Playwriting Kick-Start I hope it s the start of a new adventure for you and your students. You can get the whole book at: Lindsay Price Playwriting KICK-START

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