Inspiration from Art

Image courtesy of LuciGood

I had the second session of Matt Grinter's playwrighting course last night. This night we were in the Dining Room rather than the theatre. This allowed us to sit in a circle of somewhat uncomfortable chairs. In our first session, we'd generated our person, place and condition. This session focussed on how to get past writers block, what we need for a story and what makes a begining. 

The method we used to overcome writer's block, if you believe it exists, was to examine pictures in an art book. Our task was to pick two pictures and ask a dramatic question based on them. There was quite a bit of creep in the task as groups came up with multiple questions. For our group, we picked two paintings of what appeared to be the same women. In the first, shw was in a relaxed pose dressed as a dancer. In the second, a raging topless medusa-like figure. Our questions focussed on what made her 'go' from one state to the other and what was her relationship with the viewer. 

Our next section focussed on what do you need to know to make a start on your play. I added the John Yorke bullet list to others that emerged such as location, obstacles, physical appearance, time.

We then listened to a piece of music by Steve Reich to inspire some free writing. It was a modern classical piece with a single line of soft dialogue, "My name is Daniel Pearl." We weren't told the details. He was a journalist killed by ISIS. Simon Stephens attempted this technique but was scuppered by a dodgy bluetooth connection. We discussed the piece in groups and came up with a wide variety of interpretations. We then free wrote for 10 minutes. 

Matt spoke about most writer's repeating themes in their plays. His are death and religion. Mine are duality and injustice. We were asked to write a review of one of our plays from the perspective of a journalist. The piece would comment on the themes and what was good or bad about the writing. A few shared their finished pieces, one with candid humour. 

We were asked to read three openings of plays in our groups. Ours had Posh by Laura Wade which a couple of us had seen. The others had Polyanna by David Mamet and Far Away by Caryl Churchill. Afterwards, we discussed what made the first ten pages engaging. Inciting incident and a hook e.g. seeing into a different world, were mentioned. For me, Posh sets up the suspense plot of whether Guy will become President. 

That was the end of the session. Our task is to write a mini synopsis and perhaps a few more pages.