Thursday, October 6, 2011

Student writers at work

This semester, I am teaching three courses at My U for playwrights/dramatic writers, with three different populations. One class is junior undergraduates/all majors, one class is senior undergraduates/all majors, and one class is non-tradition students/adults.

I am cooking up or have cooked up some nice projects for these groups.

My senior playwrights are writing a full-length play, which will become the basis of our spring playwriting festival. As a part of this, I am coupling each one with a student composer, who will write original music to go with the performance, probably in taped (rather than live) versions. I have also coupled each one with a professional mentor who will work with the student during the semester on this full-length project by Skype in four meetings.

I have also arranged an inter-disciplinary project whereby each playwright will work with our screenwriting professor to transform a 10-minute play into a ten-minute screenplay as an exercise in format and form.

For both juniors and seniors, I am organizing another inter-disciplinary event celebrating the birth of Joan of Arc. Happy 600th, Joan! For this occasion, each playwright will write a short piece (a monologue or a ten-minute play) that might be selected to be performed in a staged reading at Joan's birthday party next spring in April 2012. Alongside their work, will be readings and debates by students in a Medieval Studies course on the History/Biography/Image of Joan of Arc. All three classes will be celebrating together, and sharing the writings each class brings. We may also open it up to the Creative Writing area in general: I have a meeting about that next week, which means more poets and prose writers possibly coming on board.

Some rockin' 600th birthday for the Maid!

I am also organizing our 2012 playwriting festival: three full-lengths, as I said, but this year I want to invite the students who dropped playwriting in favor of other courses to have the one-atc plays they wrote last spring (2011) performed in our reading series, directed by students and acted by students. The full-lengths will, I hope, be directed by professionals from the area, as some of them were last year. And the casts include professional actors. This is my Next Big Project.

For my adult students, I am looking for ways to cross them with my undergraduates. No projects defined yet, but I hope to find something to show off the work they're doing so well.

This is truly exciting, because in dramatic writing, it ain't done till you perform it for an audience... and getting it to an audience is surprisingly the tricky part.  

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