The introduction shows drama as both an end and means to literary expression.
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Introduction to the One act play course
In the beginning was the word. Not the vision, nor the smell or the taste or the touch… In the beginning was the word. In the beginning these words were meant to be heard. Words had a vibration, a resonance. Listeners delighted in hearing them spoken and deciphering their meaning. They were linked into sentences and the variations communicated and combined into strings of meaning. With the advent of the written word symbols were used to represent words , like chains of speech and these etchings evoked the same responses as the actual words themselves.
Have you ever noticed how children love to listen to adult conversation….how people love to sit about a campfire and tell stories, how stories evolved into simple enactments in primitive rituals and later into drama on the Greek Stage? How Shakespeare managed to sell tickets to the poorest of souls for the privilege of listening to his productions outside the theater where they couldn’t even see the stage and actors?
Words….they are powerful, evocative and almost magical and are in the human species, rivaled only by the eye.
As writers the beauty of what we create is as much a factor of the resonance, the meter, the beat, and the lyrical quality of sounds as it is the richness of the visual imagery summoned into our imaginations. There, on the backside of our awareness beauty sings and dances in the ebb and flow of sounds and images reflecting off one another. It is not enough to simply show in our writing the visual wavelengths. We must concurrently appeal to the vibrations of sound and to a lesser extent the other three senses..
One can go to a museum and see spectacular visual effects, or a movie and see mind boggling special effects but nothing can surpass the artistic rendering of both together in a live performance before an audience where the visual effects of actors and sets are blended with the resonance of language and where the integration of both is brought to a high state of artistic excellence. Nowhere does this happen with such synergism as on the stage before an audience straining to see and hear the performance.
And so as a writer of any type of literature we must appreciate the power of a staged production and see therein how the two senses interact with each other, and use this understanding in other venues of written expression. Short stories, novels, songs and poetry are but offshoots of drama and writers need an appreciation of this form. Which is no a single entity but rather a blending together of many disciplines.
So what then is the student going to learn.
How to write a monolog, a dialogue, develop characters, treat raising action, bring it to climax deal with trailing action and resolution. The lessons of this course are designed to specifically address these issues. They are not components unique to playwriting however the manner of their treatment is different because they are used in more a collective than an individual sense.
How much of an investment in time will the class require will depend upon how long it takes the student to meet the minimum requirements. All things worth doing are not worth doing well quips the cynic. In order to write the play the student will have to complete the assignments. Depending on the skill level of the student and the quality they expect from the end product, the task is, as in most other endeavors in life, something that will expand to meet the time available. You can give the lessons a lick and a kiss and learn a little or make an investment and learn a lot. Regardless of how much, you'll improve as a writer and the degree is a function of what you put into it.
Part of the craft is structure, grammar, punctuation and spelling. With the computer aids available today grammar and punctuation should not be the issues they once were. They are however still issues. You might as well get used to submitting good copy if your ever expect to get published. In this course I will be acting in the role of your editor and publisher and be quick to point out when your submissions are not up to par.
Most everyone understands the importance of timely submissions. If you can’t meet deadlines as a writer then you need to find a profession outside of writing even though I don’t have a clue about any job that does not require showing up on time, doing work on time and contributing as a team member on time. Look on your writing as a full or part time job.
There is always the question of early submissions. In this course the first two lessons require a comprehensive outline and the developement of character sketchs. Once these are done I encourage the student to take a first cut at the whole play. Once you have a "straw man" it is much easier to examine a component if the part is already working in the production. This will allow the playwright to make continous revisions as the lessons flow together. Trying to write a play using a sequential approach is like pushing a noodle. It can be very frustrating....thus as soon as possible the dramatist needs a continous thread to work with, something to upgrade and enhance as the writer pulls the production along. A play is not a string of unrelated lessons. It is a collective integration of parts that interact with one other, over and over from beginning to end. Your subconscious continues to work after a first cut is achieved continously suggesting ways to better integrate the pieces and optomize their function.The key to writing quickly is to lower your standards a bit the first time through often leaving thin threads of prose as "place holders" that will be brought up to speed during the follow on edits. When the weekly esson rolls around what you have is what the class will be looking at and providing feedback on. Material that has been through several iterations of edit will resonate much better than something produced the day before.