HUT 101: Art of Theatre
Fridays, 1:00-4:25pm, C426
Professor Jay Polish
Assignment # 2 — Playwriting Project
This is it: your chance to write your own play! We’ve talked a lot in class about the importance of everyone from stage hands to directors in theatre; for this project, we’ll focus on the role of the playwright. You will all be playwrights after this project: you will be writing a ten-minute (five-page) play. In addition, you will be recording a detailed, academic reflection on your own process of crafting this play. We will work together and individually in class to start generating theme(s), characters, settings, and conflict for your play: beyond that, your imagination is your only limit! You may use your monologue as a centerpiece of the play, but you do not have to. (Note: much of this assignment is taken from Celia Braxton, another professor of Theatre here at LaGuardia!)
Friday, May 18th — Please email me and bring five hard copies of your play draft to class with you (the extra copies are for the purposes of peer reviewing with your classmates). See the description below for elements that must be included in your play drafts.
Friday, May 25th — Please email me your final draft of your play. You must also submit (via email) a recording — audio only or video is fine — of yourself reflecting on the process of creating your play. See the description below for recording requirements. Note: we do not meet for class today, so make sure I have everything via email! No hard copies are needed.
Elements You Must Include in your Play Script:
- A Cover Sheet: The first page should only include the title (or working title) of your play as well as your name. (Note: the cover sheet does not count toward the five pages of your script.)
- Character Names: The second page should include the names of each character and, if you choose and if appropriate, a brief description of each character.
- Setting Description: Please include a brief description of the setting(s) for the play. This may include — but is not limited to — the geographical location, time period, power dynamics, and/or what the scenic elements should look like (set, costumes, lighting, props, etc.)
- Genre/Style: Feel free to explore any genre or style you wish. As a playwright, you are certainly not limited to creating a contemporary, realistic play. Does science fiction captivate you? Are there dragons flying around in your imagination? Feel free to bring them to life!
- Director’s Notes: You may want to include notes to anyone who may be directing, designing, performing, or producing your play as to what your expectations and guidelines are for any production of your play. (For example: Costuming for all of the characters should be designed in white fabrics. No color except white should be used.)
- Scenes: Your five-page play might take place all in one scene, or you may choose to write several scenes. This is completely up to you. There are no restrictions on how many scenes you need to have.
- Format: Character Names should be capitalized and start on the far left margin of the page, followed by a colon to show clearly who is speaking which line. Stage Directions should be noted by parentheses and should also be italicized to make it clear to any actor or director that these are not to be spoken. (See the formatting of Anon(ymous) for guidance.)
- Remember: You are writing a play, not a film. Terms and descriptions such as “EXTERIOR – DAY”, “CUT TO” “CLOSE UP ON” or any other term from film or video are not applicable to this project. Remember also that while lighting and stage technology can create an awe-inspiring array of different places and moods, the faster and more different the settings, the LESS is generally available to make the changes—the fewer scenic elements, props and costume changes will be available.
Note: You may find that five pages of material is not be nearly enough for you to fully explore your idea(s) in the play. In that case, you may want to write what would be considered an excerpt from a full length play. You may want to explore only one or two scenes from a larger concept that you have. In that case, and if you have an idea, you may include a summary of what you imagine would come before and/or after the scene(s) that you’ve written.
In addition to the written play script, you must record a speech of between 1 and 3 minutes reflecting on your work on the play, where your ideas came from, and how you feel your characters or plot interconnect with these sources. The speech may be recorded as audio only or as video. In your speech, you should consider both academic and life-experience sources and connections:
- issues and events you have discussed in this or other classes (high school or college), or issues in the news or in history, that inform the play;
- cultural influences and expressions of importance to you that inform the play or individual characters; and
- the life experiences you have had that inform the play.