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Creative Writing and Drama ETAS-SIG Day 2010 Franz Andres Morrissey University of Bern and Communicom GmbH.

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Presentation on theme: "Creative Writing and Drama ETAS-SIG Day 2010 Franz Andres Morrissey University of Bern and Communicom GmbH."— Presentation transcript:

1 Creative Writing and Drama ETAS-SIG Day 2010 Franz Andres Morrissey University of Bern and Communicom GmbH

2 ETAS SIG-Day 2010 © FAM The Plan A few thoughts on drama and writing… Warm-ups Working with Dialogues Exploring Re-“writes” Creating Monologues

3 ETAS SIG-Day 2010 © FAM The Interface between Drama and Creative Writing It involves the whole person, body and mind. It gives opportunities to play with language and with your fellow learners. It opens new ways of dealing with literary studies. It allows “slow language practice”. It reintroduces a somewhat neglected skill, writing, mixing it with speaking and listening.

4 Warming up physically and mentally

5 ETAS SIG-Day 2010 © FAM Voice and Mind Physical Warm-ups to open up the larynx (voice box): head rolling over shoulder to open the chest region: arms stretched out, hands together, when breathing out bring them down (hands turned outward all the way down) to improve diction: tongue twisters with a pencil between the teeth Vocal Warm-up Singing a round and walking to it. Rose, rose, rose, rose, Will I ever see thee red? I marry that thou wilt When thou art dead.

6 ETAS SIG-Day 2010 © FAM Whacky Comparisons shows the playful element in creative writing explores the nature of similes and, in the wider sense, of imagery creates unexpected sense and nonsense may give you a starting point for a text 1.On the left hand side of the paper write down an abstract concept, then pass the paper on until all the slots on the left are filled 2.Fold the paper over and write in a concrete experience 3.Be very specific in how you complete the second column; it makes for more interesting texts 4.Unfold and have a laugh…

7 ETAS SIG-Day 2010 © FAM is (like) a shout in an empty Gym. is the stuff that nightmares are made of. is worse than a stick on a small animal’s back. Hatred Affection Snobism How to write Whacky Comparisons

8 ETAS SIG-Day 2010 © FAM Creating a character useful for developing a character in a play or in a self-penned text explores what we need to know about a person (based loosely on Method Acting) can be used for character analysis in literature Fill in the chart handed out. To help remembering the categories: Background Age, social position, education, place of origin, ethnic group, family, formative influences, important experiences, Ambitions (frustrated and fulfilled) Interests Job(s), hobbies, friends, enemies Personality Strengths, weaknesses, character traits Motivations (of importance for plays) relationship with other characters, goals to be achieved by interactions with other characters

9 ETAS SIG-Day 2010 © FAM Embodying a Statement Enacting an everyday phrase or utterance learning to work with body language and intonation working towards developing a physical presence for a role 1.Visualise the situation, body relaxed. 2.Adopt the stance. 3.Make the gesture(s). 4.Make the gesture and the stance really big. 5.Say the line again, with stance and gesture, but take it down.

10 Working with dialogues

11 ETAS SIG-Day 2010 © FAM A Neutral Dialogue giving meaning to words performing language “in character” 1.Chose a cue card 2.Read the dialogue silently, thinking about your character and how s/he would say the lines. 3.Perform the dialogue, ideally with business (movements)

12 ETAS SIG-Day 2010 © FAM Neutral Dialogue Cue Cards lovers after the first night, one happy, one doubtful couple, one of them told the other the pervious evening that s/he is moving out lovers after first night, both disappointed married man/woman who has just been unfaithful and is trying to get back home to spouse, in lover’s kitchen flatmates, one very tidy, the other very messy couple, married for centuries flatmates, one is secretly in love with the other couple, one of them was made redundant the day before girl/boyfriends of flatmates couple, one of them is in the army and about to go off to a war zone parent and teenager who got back too late last night child/teenager with a parent, parents are meeting in the divorce court later

13 ETAS SIG-Day 2010 © FAM A:Morning B:You’re up A:Yes B:How are you feeling A:Just great B:You want breakfast A:I don’t know B:There is toast A:Right, yes B:I could do some eggs and bacon A:You know, I don’t think I will B:Fair enough A:Well then B:Are you off A:As soon as I’m finished with this B:I see A:OK I’d better get going B:be seeing you A:yeah right Breakfast, a neutral dialogue

14 ETAS SIG-Day 2010 © FAM An Absurdist Dialogue for almost any level from post-elementary onward a fun time-filler pairwork exercise an introduction to dialogue writing and performing 1.On the top of a piece of paper write a single word. 2. Pass the paper to your partner. 3.Write a conversational response in two words to the word on your sheet and pass it back to your partner. Pass it back. 4.Write a three-word response to your partner’s response 5.Pass the two papers back and forth until you reach seven words. 6.Extension, continue in the same way until you’re back to one word 7.Perform the dialogue

15 ETAS SIG-Day 2010 © FAM A Dialogue with a Conflict Developing a dialogue with two characters improvising in slow motion working towards a conclusion from both characters’ point of view 1.Chose a cue card. 2.On one sheet of paper, write the opening of the dialogue between the two characters, then swap. 3.Continue the conversation as the other character. 4.Try to work towards a resolution of the conflict or refuse to do so – the dialogue should have a “sense of direction” 5.Perform the dialogue, this time as a “radio play”.

16 ETAS SIG-Day 2010 © FAM Cue Cards: Conflict Dialogue A person being drawn into a conversation by the slightly disturbing stranger sitting at the bar. A customer finding out on arrival in the middle of the night that the hotel s/he booked is full. A parent trying to explain the “facts of life” to the teenager who has known them for some time One flatmate having a go at the other for having eaten the things that were to be made into a gourmet menu for her/his visitors arriving in half an hour A head teacher explaining to a very influential parent that her/his son/daughter will be expelled A teenager wants to go to a nightclub, which the parent thinks is seedy A minor celebrity who wants to be admitted to an exclusive night club but the doorman isn’t playing ball A traveller caught at customs with too much duty-free booze, trying to negotiate with the customs officer A parent promised to take the teenager to a concert but doesn’t have time A student having to explain to the teacher what happened to her/his homework An agent explaining to a well-known writer that the publishing company has rejected the new novel A person coming home after the holidays, only to discover that someone has moved into his flat in the meantime. A woman explaining to her unsuspecting husband that she is leaving him A customer who is not satisfied with a sun- powered garden-light complaining to the complaints department A teenager has smashed up the parent’s car A man asking his girlfriend to explain the messages left for her on the answerphone by a man he doesn't know. An airline passenger trying to explain at the check-in desk why s/he doesn’t want to put her cello in the hold of the plane A teenager comes home at 3a.m. instead of midnight

17 Exploring Re-“writes”

18 ETAS SIG-Day 2010 © FAM The Shakespeare scences for contemporary improv. We didn’t have time to do these. They were Opening scene of Romeo and Juliet: Taunting between Montague and Capulet servants with Benvoglio trying to calm things down Midsummer Night’s Dream III.1: Bottom with an ass head is left alone in the forest, is scared and sings, which wakes the bewitched Titania, who falls in love with him and makes her fairy followers pay their respects to the deformed klutz Macbeth III.3: The two murderers have a third one join them on Macbeth’s order in order to ambush Banquo and his young son Fleance with the former killed and the latter fleeing, because Macbeth is worried about the prophecy that Banquo won’t be king but father kinds.

19 ETAS SIG-Day 2010 © FAM Exploring a classic I Working on comprehension of a complex text exploring characters and how they interact considering an alternative text 1.In the groups read your scenes carefully. Note any questions you may have. 2.Work out what drives the characters and how they relate to each other 3.Choose a character. 4.Try to memorise the basic ideas that your expresses 5.Improvise the dialogue in your own words as the character you have chosen

20 ETAS SIG-Day 2010 © FAM Exploring a classic II exploring a character trying to imagine her/him outside the play writing an extension to the play 1.Pick a character, not necessarily the one you acted earlier, perhaps even one that is in the play but not in the scene. 2.Imagine that character after the scene, perhaps much later. 3.Work with the Character Development sheet, filling in the items you have gleaned from the text and adding the others in a different pen. 4.Write a short monologue 5.Perform it.

21 Creating Monologues

22 ETAS SIG-Day 2010 © FAM Giving a Mute Object a Voice (only touched upon) working on character development adopting an unusual point of view 1.On a small chit of paper write down the name of an animal, an object or a plant; on the back put “Animal”, “Mineral” or “Vegetable” accordingly. 2.Select one of the cards on the table. 3.Brainstorm things that you associate with the object, etc. that you have picked. 4.Write a short monologue as a prose vignette or a free verse poem in which the voice speaking is that of the object etc. that you have picked.

23 ETAS SIG-Day 2010 © FAM Adopting a Voice (not done) Create a new character and one you may not like Develop the personality of your character Explore her/his manner of speech 1.Consider the character Knopfler created in “Money for Nothing”. 2.Use the Character Development sheet. 3.Imagine what the character would sound and speak like. 4.Write a short text, a prose vignette or a short free-verse poem in the first person.

24 ETAS SIG-Day 2010 © FAM Money for Nothing Now look at them yo-yo’s, that’s the way you do it You play the guitar on the M.T.V. That ain’t working, that’s the way you do it Money for nothing and your chicks for free Now that ain’t working, that’s the way you do it Let me tell you them guys ain’t dumb Maybe get a blister on your little finger Baby get a blister on your thumb We got to install microwave ovens Custom kitchen deliveries We got to move these refrigerators We got to move these colour T.V.’s The little faggot with the earring and the makeup Yeah buddy, that’s his own hair That little faggot got his own jet airplane That little faggot he’s a millionaire We got to install microwave ovens … Look at that, look at that I should have learned to play the guitar I should have learned to play them drums Look at that mama, she got it sticking in the camera Man we can have some And he’s up there, what’s that? Hawaiian noises? Banging on the bongos like a chimpanzee Oh, that ain’t working, that’s the way you do it Get your money for nothing get your chicks for free We got to install microwave ovens …

25 ETAS SIG-Day 2010 © FAM Looking at Things in Hindsight Explore characterisation in a well-known text or myth Find a new angle on the character Assume the voice of the character 1.Pick one of the characters of a story, novel, film, fairy tale, myth etc, perhaps a marginal one... 2.Fill in the Character Development sheet. 3.Imagine the character 20 years later, looking back on the event(s) in the story. 4.Write a short text, a prose vignette or a short free-verse poem

26 ETAS SIG-Day 2010 © FAM For more material to use in class you can download the BBC/British Council teaching pack Creative Ways from Other sites are or you can contact me at

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