Goblins, Frogs and Dogs, Oh My!
Goblins jumping out from the pages of story books. Harry Potter bursting into a classroom and turning children into frogs. Humanoid clones running for their lives away from the massive puppy dog wild eyed monster of planet Obsidian, are just some of the stories offed in the playwriting workshops I’ve been delivering in schools.
What imaginations, what storytellers and what poor exhausted teachers after my visits, as I leave behind a hyped-up classroom of jumping frog dogs, hiding from that Potter lad on a made-up goblin planet. “Thanks for having me, see ya Miss” I call as I leave in a blaze of glory.
The creative response to me trying to inspire Hull to get writing and submit work to the 37 Plays project by the Royal Shakespeare Company is giving me such joy and is also inspiring me in return. The inspiring thing about watching young people create is that for the most part they don’t care about what people think of them. They’re not worried about sharing their ideas, to the point that their faces are bright red and hands as high up into the air as possible all bursting with a keen desire to share their next plot twist with the group. It’s made me reflect a lot about how much as an adult creative, I overthink. But these kids just keep it simple, say the first thing that comes to their mind and believe in their gut instincts that their idea is the absolute best and if you give them a minute, they will tell you for why too. And, in great detail! That’s something us adults could do with re-learning from perhaps. It’s something I’m going to try implement in my next personal writing session that’s for sure.
Our Young Writers group, age 14-18 started this week here at Hull Truck Theatre and it was such a warm and welcoming bunch, extremely supportive of one another with lots of space for the individuals to talk and be open about their love/interest for playwrighting. It’s such a special privilege to be in a role where I can meet and work with like-minded folk, especially young people as one of my personal mantras is that the youth will prevail, after all. The youth are our future. The aim for this group is for them to collaboratively write a play together, offering a piece of work that can also be submitted to the RSC’s 37 Plays project. It’s going to be an exciting journey with this group, and I look forward to creating with them for 10 weeks and then being able to share their work and progress with you along the way.
The 37 Plays resource I’d like to share this week is from resource pack 2 and is about building the world. The world of your story and the world in which your characters are based. There are some really simple but important questions to ask yourself, shared by the playwright Ishy Din on the 37 plays resource webpage.
- Is it a real or imaginary world?
- What time of year is it and what is the timeframe of the story?
- Is it a contemporary setting?
- What’s going on in the larger world?
Answering these questions in depth will support your own understanding and help you with the development of your world. Allowing your answer to aid you like building bricks in order to build your play world. You could develop these questions even further and ask any personal ‘world’ questions you may be wondering about yourself when thinking about your play but don’t yet have the answers.
Our playwrights tip this week is by Gill Adams. Gill has written several plays and had them staged all over the UK including ‘Jump to Cow Heaven’ and ‘Off Out’.
Gill says, With scenes. Get in late and out early. Don’t go around the houses. Get to the action and grip us (the audience). Let us discover why we should care. Don’t tell, show.
Gill also offers that she usually writes a central dramatic question to keep her on track. What does her characters want and need? Remembering that what they want isn’t always what they need. The story is the trails of those central questions.
And just one more thing before I sign off for the week. There is a great hashtag that writers, the RSC and their associate theatres are all using to offer more support across social media and that is #37Plays so do check that out and get involved with the conversations.
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