Even in an age of seemingly constant budget cuts to art programs, modern students study plays, act in plays, and sometimes even direct plays – but few ever write plays. Why not? And more importantly: How can willing teachers bridge this gap?
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In Teaching Playwriting: Creativity in Practice, author and drama education professor at the Sydney School of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney Paul Gardiner argues that modern drama teachers shouldn’t just teach students to understand drama, they should also enable them to create their own.
“When young people make or write theatre, the imaginative benefits of empathy and life rehearsal, so central to the audience experience, are amplified tenfold. Giving the students the tools to create enables them to ‘imagine’ new worlds, to embody new characters and to develop new opinions and ideas, ideas perhaps previously unimaginable,” Gardiner argues in the introduction.
Teaching Playwriting is divided into two sections, a shorter introductory “Part One,” where chapters include “Why playwriting?” and “Spectrum of playwriting approaches,” and a lengthier Part Two, which dives into specifics with chapters like “Creating character,” “Generating action,” and “Crafting dialogue.” The book includes numerous writing exercises to help illustrate the concepts at hand.
“My intention is that this book will provide drama education with the skills and confidence to teach playwriting in their classroom and workshops so students can access the benefits of this amazing creative activity and be equally empowered by understanding its process,” Gardiner writes.