Thursday, March 29, 2007

Professional Development - Collaborative Project

As part of the National Academy of Writing, we've got to do a Professional Development encompasing teaching, collaborative arts and maintaining a diary of learning. There's a lot of work involved (justly) as it covers up to two years. I've decided to take the bull by the horns and look into the collaborative element with respect to getting something done and ready for the New Generation Arts Festival (in June - whoah!).

I was wondering how I should go about linking my ideas together and getting some kind of ball rolling... perhaps I should mention what I'm considering:

I have written three 1,500 word short stories that can be turned into monologues. Their unifying themes are the 'trials of childhood':

  • The courtship of two sixthform students (my original submission for entry to NAW)
  • A bullied student seeks revenge on his classmates
  • A daughter pieces together her mother's reasons for hating her dead father (originally the 1,000 word Fanny and Alexander improvisation).

I'm thinking of writing a 4th to wrap it all up, but have yet to plan it. Each one takes roughly 10 minutes to read out and my thoughts so far on tying it all together would be one actor/actress to read each monologue a-la a kind of Alan Bennett "Talking Heads" with basic set pieces and possibly projections of images relating to what the actors are saying - either representing the truth of the words, visual metaphors, or juxtaposed imagery.

My tutor for this module has these thoughts:

This sounds interesting in principle and would be a good project to pursue with some student actors. I’d need to see the material you’ve written, though. The word ’link’ always arouses suspicion and I think you might need to find a sharper focus for what you want to do.

Maybe I should say they're "Three separate stories on the trials of childhood".

If it’s to work as a performance there has to be a strong thread, and looking at your pieces individually I’d say you will need to do a lot of filtering to pitch your work for speaking actors. On this, I recommend two books, both of which you can order from Amazon: Anne Hart’s How to Write Plays, Monologues and Skits and Laura Harrington’s 100 Monologues. The latter is an anthology designed (if memory serves) for drama school auditions but it’s a great source of examples and ideas. At the moment you need greater economy in indicating space and time, and you need to pace the pieces around what playwrights call ‘beats’ – the changes of direction which give a performer a clue to mood and keep the audience on their toes. Think of a beat as lasting about 30 seconds! I’d start with the bullying piece.

So, more to think about, on top of planning my screenplay. Perhaps this module should wait till next year.

No comments: