Writing a play with us
“How would you like to have the same experience that a professional playwright does? You’ll have an experienced writing coach work with you (push you to the limit!) to develop original characters and then create a script. Every thought, emotion, and word will be yours, built by you within a defined structure. Professional actors will perform a staged reading – under your direction – before a live audience.
The biggest difference is that instead of taking a year or more, you will move from start to finish in three weeks’ time!”
PlayWriting workshop structure.
2 ½ hour workshop every day. Playwriting skills and development of three characters.
Select two characters and craft a play, focusing on the characters’ deepest needs, fears, and secrets.
The writer becomes the director, guiding professional actors in movement, character background, motivation, and inner conflict.
We bring youth at the edge, coaches, and actors into a unique collaboration, and the effects are remarkable.
Our process in detail:
Throughout the workshop coaches work one on one with students. It is only through one on one coaching that we can build the depth of collaboration, challenge and trust. Our coaches include professional actors, writers and musicians. They have been carefully trained to be collaborators that question, facilitate, and enable new ways for the individual voice of each writer to manifest… to go with the writers, wherever the journey takes them and to provide dependable and safe spaces to work.
In Week One we focus on the foundations. We dive into playwriting skills, exploring conflict, drama, and character through group exercises, one-on-one character development, and theatrical demonstrations. Each writer develops three characters, exploring their deepest fears, needs, and secrets. The characters are at the heart of the plays. In Week Two, each writer is paired with a coach with whom s/he will work until the performance; an enduring partnership is formed. After reviewing all the work of Week One, the writer will select two of those characters, and from their emotional conflict a play is born. On performance day (generally a week later) the playwrites become the directors, guiding actors in movement, character history, motivation, and inner conflict.
Handy tips for PlayWrites:
No human characters are allowed. No story either! If you bring a story to the workshop, much of the creative work is already done. Even more important, your characters’ trajectory is known, which leaves little room for surprise.
One of the biggest thrills in the writing process is when a character does something that nobody saw coming and to go with it. The plays are created through the characters, their exploration and discovery moment by moment. We need to be there for the characters, not racing to a pre-ordained ending. Story is discovered, not dictated.
If you come to the workshop with a story in your mind, save it for later, don’t let it get in the way. Treasure the challenge and opportunities here and now, and you will have more to bring to that idea once you’ve completed the workshop.
Coaches will ask you lots of questions, challenging questions. The coaches don’t have the answers, they are for you to determine and discover. The process can be tiring, so take care of yourself after each day. There may well be days when you are tired and don’t want to come in - that’s a good sign, it means you’re doing important work. Stick to it and keep coming in. There will be fun as well as challenges, and the rewards will be well worth it.
Once a PlayWrite has completed the core workshop, they are eligible for the Song Writing workshop at PlayWrite HQ.
In the first week, writers develop lyrics working with “core” coaches; in the second week, they collaborate with (professional) composers to complete their songs.
Winter and Spring Showcases
Twice a year we select plays and songs written over the last six months for performance at our WORD.VOICE. showcase in spring, and our Hugs and Hot Chocolate showcase in winter. Luminary actors, singers and musicians perform the showcase work under the direction of our PlayWrite graduates, giving them yet another second opportunity to direct their creations.
Several times a year PlayWrite supports Oregon Public Broadcasting by volunteering to answer the phones during a pledge drive. PlayWrite graduates, coaches, board members and others (perhaps you!) answer phones, support a worthy cause, and show our flag (by wearing a PlayWrite t-shirt on camera). It’s a lot of fun, a chance to reconnect, support a worthy cause and (if you choose) get your mug on TV!
And interesting opportunities as they arise.