If you follow my Practicing Writing blog, you may recall that over the past several months, I’ve been trying to learn a little more about playwriting.
As with much of my creative work, I’m drawn especially to the idea of writing a play with specifically Jewish content. (Actually, I might adapt a short story by another writer, although I’ve also considered adapting work of my own.)
Part of my learning process to date has consisted of attending plays and, to stretch a popular phrase, “watching as a writer.” In the past 10 days or so, in fact, I’ve seen three Jewishly-focused productions: “The Model Apartment” (Judith Miller’s review for Tablet echoes my thoughts on that one); “Bad Jews” (about which I’m less enthusiastic than Miller is); and the standout: “Arafat in Therapy.”
A solo show written and performed by Australian-Israeli Jeremie Bracka, “Arafat in Therapy” came to my attention via The Jewish Week. Its format and style remind me of Anna Deavere Smith’s “Fires in the Mirror,” which I saw many years ago in Massachusetts (although Bracka did not use interviews to shape his characters). Again, I’m struck by the extraordinary talents that are involved in writing and performing these solo shows that feature multiple characters.
My personal ambitions are much more modest. At the moment, my main ambition is simply to learn how to write a play. Ideally, I’d do this in a Jewish context.
And if the Schusterman Foundation funds my #MakeItHappen micro-grant proposal, “Jewish Playwriting 101” will become a reality.
Read all about my idea. “Like” it! Share it! And let me know what you think about it!
Remember back in April, when I shared with you my interest in learning how to write a play? Well, three months later, I thought that it might be time for an update.
My progress, such as it is, has been negligible. I’m only a couple of chapters into Kathleen E. George’s Playwriting: The First Workshop. Even so, I’ve finished reading A.R. Gurney’s The Dinner Party (discussed and assigned in George’s book), and I’m about to start David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross (analyzed in my current chapter). I’ve drafted my own first scene, and I’m looking forward to my next generative assignment.
I’m also trying to attend at least one live theater performance each month. My July foray will likely take place next weekend…though I may dodge my own requirement somewhat by watching a free performance of Glengarry Glen Ross from the comfort of my home thanks to Amazon Prime Instant Video.
I’m having fun with this–it’s always exciting to try to take my writing practice in new directions, especially when the stakes are low: I’m not being graded, I have no deadline, I’m not (yet) submitting work for anyone else to see. All of that may happen in due course, to be sure, but those pressures are off for the moment.
How about you? Trying anything new with your writing this summer?
Last weekend, and thanks to my TDF membership, I had the opportunity to see a performance of Orphans, a new play starring Alec Baldwin that is currently in previews on Broadway. And I was reminded, as I am nearly every time I go to watch a play, that I’d really like to learn how to write a play of my own.
So this post is more a request for resources than anything else. I’d love to receive suggestions regarding:
1) online introductory playwriting courses that you might recommend;
2) “how-to” books on playwriting that you have found to be useful; and/or
3) any other suggestions on how I might incorporate playwriting into my writing practice (for instance, I’m guessing that reading actual play scripts would be helpful, and I actually have a script or two on hand, but I’d be grateful for recommendations of scripts that have worked especially well for you, whether you’ve been teaching or studying playwriting).
Thank you all in advance!