Writing successfully for the stage: structure, plot, and dialogue

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Overview

This course is part of the University of Cambridge’s Micro Master’s program in Writing for Performance and Entertainment Industries.

We will be looking in depth at how to turn your ideas into well-structured story arcs with resonant plot points. How can we write dialogue that sings with sub-text, and embodies your own distinctive creative voice? We will look closely at form, and find ways of relating theme to style. How should we structure a play-text so that it is active and makes every dramatic beat count? How will you use stage direction, music and set design to develop the metaphoric world of your play? All these questions and more will be answered.

We will be thinking comparatively about advice from the most famous script-editors and dramaturgs, as well as investigating the work of Brecht, Richard Schechner, Augusto Boal, Japanese Noh theatre, and epic forms of theatre from around the world. We will explore how theory may inspire creative practice and vice versa. What commonalities does theatre-making share in cultural communities across the world and why is important that we reference creative practices outside our own? Join us and expand your perspective on what is possible with space, words, and live performance.

Learning to pace a story effectively, to engage and surprise an audience(and to make them laugh!), are useful skills for your professional development outside the Arts.

Skill transferability, flexible thinking, and expert language abilities are now essential in a diversifying global job market - come and learn essential new skills, and have fun doing it!

You will be set writing exercises over the course of the module, and you will asked to keep a brief creativity journal to note how your ideas progress and how your intuition leads you into productivity. By the end of this module, you will have completed a plan for the structure of a new play. You will have tried out different ways of writing dialogue and found one that suits you – you will be invited to share this in a discussion forum with your peers.

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