Presentation on theme: "Chapter 4 – Image Maker: The Playwright A play in a book is only the shadow of a play and not even a clear shadow of it.... [It] is hardly more than an."— Presentation transcript:
Chapter 4 – Image Maker: The Playwright A play in a book is only the shadow of a play and not even a clear shadow of it.... [It] is hardly more than an architect’s blueprint of a house not yet built or built and destroyed. —Tennessee Williams
Chapter Summary The playwright envisions the play’s world, its people, words environment, objects, relationships, emotions, attitudes, and events: –Playwright = “play builder” Playwriting is a creative act that enlarges our understanding of human experience. Playwriting enriches our appreciation of life.
The Play and the Audience Experience of watching a play divided: –Emotional involvement –Aesthetic detachment Empathy for characters draws us into world of play. Awareness that it’s a play keeps us at a distance. Catharsis: –A cleansing or purging of strong emotions. –Empathy for fictional characters inspires emotions such as pity and fear, but at a comfortable distance.
The Play and the Audience Most playwrights encourage empathy in audience for characters: –An exception: Bertolt Brecht Alienation effect (Verfemdung) Distance encourages judgments about social and economic issues in play
The Play: “A Blueprint for a House Not Yet Built” Playwright: –Writes a play to express some aspect of human experience –Shapes a personal vision into an organized, meaningful whole Script: –Blueprint for a specific dramatic experience Play attains finished form only in performance.
The Playwright’s Beginnings Modes of playwriting: –Start with idea, dream, and/or image, then work out an action to express it –Start with character or real person then develop action around him or her –Start with a situation, then let it unfold No two playwrights use the same approach
The Playwright’s Beginnings Examples: –Bertolt Brecht: Started with outline, then summarized social and political ideas before building a story based on the outline –Sam Shepard: Handwrites draft, then works out revisions in theatre before writing final draft
The Playwright’s Role: Production Once script is written, playwright takes a backseat to director, designers, actors, producers. Exceptions: –Playwrights who direct (e.g., David Mamet) –Playwrights who act/produce (e.g., Shakespeare) Playwright may contribute to production through script revisions.
The Playwright’s Tools Playwright’s “toolbox”: –Plot: What happens in a play –Character: The people in a play –Language: What the characters say (dialogue) Conflict: –Clash of personal, moral, or social forces –Plot works toward resolution of central conflict
The Playwright’s Tools Plot and performability: –Powerful and sustained dramatic impact –Compression: Play unfolds faster than real time. –Economy: Whatever does not contribute to the overall effect is omitted. –Intensity: Emotional intensity holds audience’s attention.
The Playwright’s Tools Characters must be: –Believable –Multifaceted –Complex My chief aim in playwriting is the creation of character.... [My] plays have been an effort to explore the beauty and meaning in the confusion of living. —Tennessee Williams
The Playwright’s Tools Dialogue: –Must be speakable –Must contain potential for gesture and meaning
The Playwright’s Industry Literary agencies: –International Creative Management (ICM) –William Morris Agency Essential connections: –Agent –Producer –Director
New American Writing: Alternative Voices Late 1980s saw emergence of playwrights representing underrepresented minorities: –Gay and lesbian –African American –Latino/a
New American Writing: Alternative Voices Gay and lesbian writing: –Mart Crowley, Boys in the Band Introduced sexual orientation as acceptable subject Important works: –Bent, Martin Sherman –The Normal Heart, Larry Kramer –Angels in America, Tony Kushner –How I Learned to Drive, Paula Vogel
New American Writing: Alternative Voices African American writing: –Early works: Mulatto, Langston Hughes (1930) A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry (1959) Important works: –Slave Ship, Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones) –Ma Raney’s Black Bottom, August Wilson –The America Play, Suzan-Lori Parks –for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf, Ntozake Shange
New American Writing: Alternative Voices Asian American writing: –Early works pushed back against stereotypes Important works: –Sisters Matsumoto, Philip Kan Gotanda –L.A. Stories, Han Ong –Stop Kiss, Diana Son –M. Butterfly, David Henry Hwang
New American Writing: Alternative Voices U.S. Latino/a writing: –North American Spanish-speaking theatre in existence since late 1500s –Modern era: Luis Valdez and El Teatro Campesino (The Farm Workers’ Theatre) Important works: –Anna in the Tropics, Nilo Cruz –The Conduct of Life, María Irene Fornés –The Floating Island Plays, Eduardo Machado –Roosters, Milcha Sanchez-Scott
Core Concepts When theatrical process starts with script, playwright is most essential artist in a production Playwright builds the world of the play: –Events –Characters –Meaning Playwright hands finished script to director, actors, designers