STEPHEN HALL online

Master class in play writing


graduation_1813It’s always good to see what methods writers use, to engage their destiny – a play for the stage. There’s also no better place to start, than attending a master class in play writing with Louise Page.

An expert no less, Louise is a writer of at least two dozen performed plays acted in at least 45 countries and winner of several international play writing awards. She writes for stage, film and television. She’s obviously someone to be listened to as she’s mastered the art, with any tip she’s prepared to pass on being of interest.

She advertises her master class in this fashion – ‘never got past the first 20 pages of your play?’ Fortunately I have, but I’m still willing to listen and learn from someone with such a marvellous track record.

Aided by successful director Glen Walford and watched closely by producer/actress Melissa Simmonds the assorted group of students took in every word. The attendees included a film producer, screenplay writer, several actors wanting to see the other side of the craft and potential writers of plays.

Essentially, Louise’s master class was to look at characterization. She suggested (and I can’t give too much away so you’ll still feel the need to attend a later class) writing three personal (not your own!) characteristics, each on a separate piece of paper and having everyone doing the same. Then mix up the choices and see what three different qualities you pick from the hat. You can then mould a ‘new’ person from those three potentially different parts of information. Finally, you can compare the characters everyone now has and see how they relate to each other; how would they meet and what conflict would result?

I for one, will be using this method to think differently about future characters that I require. If I write down enough different characteristics and pull out three for each person in my next play, I’ll soon have a variation of people available for the cast to allow friendships and conflict.

You always run out of time in these types of master classes. You’d need ten hours straight just for the questions that follow afterwards. Every idea brings another range of questions related to what people would or could do differently. What if people turn this way or that way – what would the result in the script be? How would this change the relationships and the conflict?

The telling point for me was that we all knew every character in detail after a short space of time. We knew how they’d interact, what problems would follow and who would side with who in any dispute. No more positive proof that Louise Page’s methods work, is required.

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STEPHEN HALL online