ENGL 211—Playwriting, Spring by zoi14224


									                              ENGL 211: Playwriting in Fall 2008

Professor Mark Zelinsky                                              Phone: 231-5252
Office: Lynch Hall 126                     Office Hours: WF 4-5:30 PM and by appointment

Text:         Pike, Frank and Thomas G. Dunn. The Playwright’s Handbook. Rev. ed.
              Fierstein, Harvey. Safe Sex.

Description and Objectives:

        This course is designed to provide students with a practical approach to playwriting.
During the first part of the class an emphasis will be placed on the theoretical aspects of the
craft, analysis of professional playwrights’ works, and basic exercises enabling the student to
create structures for action as opposed to narrative. Next, the course will deal with
fundamentals from writing scenarios to creating settings and developing characters. Students
will complete a play (of NO MORE than 20 pages) from the rough draft stage to a finished
script ready for further modification within a rehearsal process—a vital first step should the
student wish to have her work produced theatrically. Although we are dealing with the art of
playwriting in a systematic way, there are no aesthetic rules for creativity, only practical
considerations of craft. Thus, questions of style will be secondary to whether or not the
audience receives the creative experience intended by the playwright.

Requirements and Grading:

   1) Class Attendance/Participation: Because the course is designed as a workshop, your
      participation is imperative as we will be reading and critiquing plays aloud in most
      class meetings. Remember, plays are meant to be heard and seen NOT read; therefore,
      this workshop setting allows you, as a beginning playwright, the invaluable opportunity
      of hearing your play. You are expected to be present and prompt for each class
      meeting. More than one absence during the semester will result in a lowering of your
      grade. Tardiness is also part of this grading element and three late arrivals will count
      as one absence.

   2) Written Exercises: A series of exercises will be submitted as you begin to develop
      your play’s setting, characters, dialogue, and themes. These exercises assist you in
      forming a strong foundation for your final work and must be generated on a computer
      or a typewriter. Late work is penalized. Keep copies of all these exercises as fuel for
      future writing.

   3) Quizzes: You will be tested on the published plays we are reading. These quizzes will
      be formatted with a variety of questions, possibly including matching, multiple choice,
      true/false, short answer, and essays.

   4) The Play: You will write a play (of NO MORE than 20 pages) of your own creation
      using the suggestions of your text and enhancing it through both in class/written
       criticism. Rewriting is absolutely vital to the playwriting process and emphasis will
       be placed on how your work evolves through revision. Bring a minimum of 3 copies
       of your play to the workshops, depending on the number of characters in your piece.
       Copies of each earlier version with instructor’s comments MUST be submitted with
       the final version. Your attempts to improve the play through more vivid imagery,
       greater clarity of character, action, and dialogue, etc., are far more important than the
       number of pages you produce. You should expect to rewrite often and you should
       write each day.

   5) Play in Performance: You are required to attend Lysistrata on campus on November
      20, 21, or 22. NO EXCUSES will be accepted for missing this performance so plan it
      into your schedule now. You will be quizzed on this performance.

   6) Grading Elements:
                   Attendance/Participation:          15%   (30 points)
                   Written Exercises (14):            35%   (70 points)
                   Quizzes (4):                       10%   (20 points)
                   Your Play:                         40%   (80 points)
                          Total -                    100%   (200 points)

Week 2-
Tues. Sept. 2: Course Introduction. Dramatic Structure & Elements.

Week 3-
Sept. 8:      QUIZ #1 and discussion of Williams’ Something Unspoken & Chalky White
              Pages ix-xv and 3-16; Exercises pg. 10, 14, and 16 DUE.

Week 4-
Sept. 15:     QUIZ #2 and discussion of Howe’s Teeth and Welty’s Bye-Bye Brevoort.
              Pages 17-32; Exercises pg. 21, 27, and 32 DUE.

Week 5-
Sept. 22:     QUIZ #3 and discussion of Fierstein’s Safe Sex.
              Pages 32-44; Exercises pg. 38 and 43 (Scene #1) DUE.

Week 6-
Sept 29:      Pages 46-55 DUE; Exercises pg. 49 and 55 (Scene #2) DUE, modified
              as discussed in class. Be sure to identify the scene’s central reflector.

Week 7-
Oct. 6:       Rewrite of Scene #1 DUE. Pages 55-64; Exercise pg. 58 DUE.

Week 8-
Oct. 13:      Rewrite Scene #2 DUE. Pages 64-89; Exercise pg. 89, character and
              setting descriptions for major work DUE.
Week 9-
Oct. 20:      Pages 89-102; Exercise pg. 97 & 102 DUE. First draft of
              major work DUE.

Week 10-
Oct. 27:      Pages 119-127 DUE. Workshop plays.

Week 11-
Nov. 3:       Second draft of major play DUE. Workshop plays.

Week 12-
Nov. 10:     Workshop plays.

Week 13-
Nov. 17:      Third draft of major play DUE. Workshop plays.

Week 14
Nov. 24:      QUIZ #4 on Lysistrata and discussion. Workshop plays.

Week 15-
Dec. 1:      Workshop plays. Course summation/evaluation.

Final Exam Week-
Finished Play Due NO LATER than Tuesday, December 9 at noon.

NOTE: I reserve the right to alter this schedule. Such changes, if any, will be announced in


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