Tuesday, September 7, 2010
From Our Studio: Freehold's Summer New Play Lab: Truth as Theme by Dickey Nesenger
When Oedipus discovers he's the one who killed King Laius, slept with his own mother and caused the plague, he rips his eyeballs out. The protagonists created in the plays during this summer's New Play Lab may not have succumbed to a similar fate but each was built on the necessity of telling the truth; moreover, accepting the consequences. As evidenced in all the plays, "truth as theme" was foremost on the minds of the nine playwrights, each writer using his imagination and considerable dramatic skill to kick start characters into "coming clean." The writers and I shared much dialogue on the nature and application of craft in terms of character development and how to peel away the proverbial onion of behavior and personality to get to the core of truthfulness or, knowingness.
I have excerpted a few questions and comments offered by the playwrights and myself, on how to transform protagonists into truth-seeking missionaries.
Q: How will using the "truth as theme" help me in the writing of my play?
A: It will assist you in creating proactive characters with strong acting choices for your actors and a point of connection for your audience.
Q: How will this concept help me with my story-line?
A: It will help you find what your story is about. (In the New Play Lab, the plays were about family longing, loyalty, betrayal, corruption, fear of failure, loss, redemption and guilt).
Q: With all the information I have gleaned on this subject, how do I feel like I am writing a play rather than a thesis?
A: You won't if you write succinctly, focusing on what it is your character ultimately needs to reveal (All great plays have a story that is simple. It's the characters who are complex).
Q: I understand the concept of external event, and what a character wants; for example Oedipus wants to find out who started the plague, but what about the internal event, the deeper story that evolves from a character's point of discovery?
A: Great question! When a character discovers the truth--through unfolding events--he changes big time, moving in a new direction, either succumbing to his dark side (tragedy) or enlightenment (all other genres). Ask your protagonist by the end of the play, okay, now what do I do with the rest of my life? If you built your "truth as theme" story on solid foundation, he'll tell you the answer.
Dickey Nesenger is a playwright and playwriting instructor. Dickey teaches at Freehold and Hugo House and mentors for PATH for Art, a Seattle based community outreach program, and serves as panelist for Artist Trust Foundation and Advisory Editor for Knock Press at Antioch University Seattle.
JOIN US for Freehold's New Play Lab
September 16, 17, 18
At Freehold, 2222 2nd Avenue, Suite 200
Check out some exciting new excerpts from the plays of Freehold's summer New Play Lab students taught by Dickey Nesenger. The staged readings/showcase are directed by Bill Selig, Dave Tucker, Meghan Arnette and Susan Harrison.
Featuring excerpts of plays by:
Michele Lucien Erickson
Cast includes: Jim Anderson, Simone Barron, Jillian Boshart, Alice Bridgforth, Eloisa Cardona, Gary Estrada, Bonnie Foster, Jason Franklin, Gail Harvey, Katelyn Hanson, T’ai Hartley, Gail Harvey, Barbara Lindsay, Kere Loughlin-Presnal, Richard Payne, Matt Riggins, John Ruoff, Ron Sandahl, Michael Xenakis
FREE - Donations Accepted
The performance times are:
Program A, Thurs, Sept. 16 @ 8:00pm
Program B, Fri, Sept 17 at 8:00pm
Program B, Sat. Sept 18 at 3:00pm
Program A, Sat. Sept. 18 at 8:00pm
Program A: Thursday and Saturday Night
Aftermath by Mary Paradise
Brain Tumor Dreams by K.C. Thompson
Sentimental Journey by Patty Cogen
The Route by Don Harmon
Program B: Friday Night and Saturday Matinee
The Dealer's Hand by Bonnie Foster
Icarus by Marcia Phillips Helme
Daniel's Mood by Robert Flor
Garage Sale by Michele Lucien Erickson
The Abortion Play by Germán Munoz
Questions? (206) 323-7499 or firstname.lastname@example.org