Script *
"I write about myself with the same pencil and in the same exercise book as about him. It is no longer I, but another whose life is just beginning." - Samuel Beckett Note the spelling -- "wright" refers to a "maker" (similar to a "shipwright" or an iron worker who has "wrought" iron"). This suggests that it is something other than just literary.

In THEMES (new, for Playscript Analysis Class) I have a new page SCRIPTease. For you, playwrights.

Don't panic, if you will see some writing in cyrilics: I am testing pages for the Russian students in Moscow.

New flash banners will take you to the undated directories and pages!

I stay away from teaching playwrighting, because it takes better English than mine. In fact, native speakers should do it. I do playwright independent studies from time to time, but mostly from the dramatic structure POV, the language of the stage.


Fall 2003. The last part of both drama classes (DramLit and Playscript) will have writing component: monologues in 215 and scenes in 413. My aim is not to teach you how to write plays, but a new way to study drama!


How to write a play? Read Chekhov -- and do the same.


Mamet: The product of the artist has become less important than the fact of the artist. We wish to absorb this person. We wish to devour someone who has experienced the tragic. In our society this person is much more important than anything he might create. The suicide of a seventeen-year-old boy is a very promising and tempting theme, but a frightening one to undertake. An issue so painful to us all calls for a painfully forceful response, and do we young writers have the inner resources for it? No. When you guarantee the success of this theme, you are judging by your own standards. But then, in addition to talent, the men of your generation had erudition, schooling, iron and phosphorus, while contemporary talents have nothing of the sort. Frankly speaking, there is reason to rejoice that they keep away from serious problems. Let them have a go at your seventeen-year-old, and I am certain that X, completely unaware of what he is doing, will slander him and pile lie upon blasphemy with the purest of intentions; Y will give him a shot of pallid and petty tendentiousness; while Z will explain away the suicide as a psychosis. Your boy is of a good, pure nature. He seeks after God. He is loving, sensitive and deeply hurt. To handle a figure like that, an author has to be capable of suffering, while all our contemporary authors can do is whine and snivel. To Dmitry Grigorovich, January 12, 1888 (Chekhov)

chekhov pages @ vtheatre Shrew2004

The Possessed 2003
Albee Conference, Alaska * The Dramatist's Toolkit

Solving Your Script

Art Of Dramatic Writing

Losev: , , . , .

Playwrighting Competitions




first play:


about film:





Script Pages, WRITER

I should know it's coming. I talk in my classes that I aim at the practical applications of your learning... So, I introduced "writing" (scenes, monologues) in my drama classes (instead of the only "paper-writing" assignments). Yes, in addition, but your own dramatic writing!

Mama mia! If I don't have enough problems with teaching? I can't get through the analysis of the masterpieces (many) -- and I want my students to write their own pieces!

God have mercy on me (and them)!

... I hope that writing your own dramatic scenes helped you to see playwrighting from a new perspective.

DRAMATURGY AND DEVELOPING NEW WORK: "A dramaturg who cannot propose remedies for remediable scripts and who, like the Aushwitz railway doctor, merely gestures to the right for salvageable or the left for expendable, seems to me to be an unnecessary luxury in a theatrical institution.
The dramaturg's most valuable function is to help create new material in collaborations with others--writers, directors, actors and designers. This presupposes a dramaturg who is not merely a Ph.D. graduate from an ivy-league university or a jumped-up journalist, but a person with literary and theatrical skills who can function not only as editor, but as writer as well." Charles Marowitz. "Frontlines: The Dramaturg's Lament." American Theatre

Fall 2003: If you want to follow the process of working on the play, go to the; I'm working on The Possessed (Dostoevsky's novel) for the UAF main stage production in the Fall 2003.

Writing for the Stage

In THR413 Playscript Analysis I am limited to the last two weeks of the class to work with the students on writing scenes ( see THR413 main syllabus).

A few new pages to help you in writing, like Wright page in PLAYS directory.

playwighting Play Writing - The One Act Play


1. Outline, analyze, and criticise any one-act play you have seen.

2. Solely for practice, and not with a view to production, map out a playlet from a well-known short-story.

3. Invent two or three themes or situations for one-act plays.

4. In the manner outlined on page 193 (Exercise 7, Chapter XVI) set about writing a One-act play.

Playwright's POV

"When you describe the miserable and unfortunate, and want to make the reader feel pity, try to be somewhat colder that seems to give a kind of background to another's grief, against which it stands out more clearly. Whereas in your story the characters cry and you sigh. Yes, be more cold. ... The more objective you are, the stronger will be the impression you make." -- To Lydia Avilova, March 19, 1892 & April 29, 1892
I do not have time in class to talk about writers, only about their works. It's okay this way, if you an actor or director, and you do not write plays. For you, playwrights, studying the link between writer and his play is most beneficial. Because you measure it against yourself.

Please, don't be shy -- you are alone, nobody reads your mind and nobody cares: say it -- and do it. "I and Shakespeare" or "I and Chekhov"... You see, if you are dead serious about writing for theatre, you MUST do it. It's not a (ego) mania, but the right set of mind.

Look how Beckett does it -- and steal it! Aha! It's that easy, my friend. Because you have your own story, your characters....

Remember Aristotle? Mimesis? Try to immitate the great masters, try to understand their STYLE, their METHODS -- that's how you learn. That is how we learn to speak, to walk, to think...

Read playwrights' biographies (only good ones, usually their are the Analysis books). Try to understand where this or that method came from. Look at your own script. Do you have it -- your method? Your style? Your (new)characters? New themes? What are your subjects?

Chekhov: Critics are like horse-flies which hinder the horses in their ploughing of the soil. The muscles of the horse are as taut as fiddle-strings, and suddenly a horse-fly alights on its croup, buzzing and stinging. The horse's skin quivers, it waves its tail. What is the fly buzzing about? It probably doesn't know itself. It simply has a restless nature and wants to make itself felt "I'm alive, too, you know!" it seems to say. "Look, I know how to buzz, there's nothing I can't buzz about!" I've been reading reviews of my stories for twenty-five years, and can't remember a single useful point in any of them, or the slightest good advice. The only reviewer who ever made an impression on me was Skabichevsky, who prophesied that I would die drunk in the bottom of a ditch. --Quoted by Maxim Gorky in "Anton Chekhov," On Literature
One has to write what one sees, what one feels, truthfully, sincerely. I am often asked what it was that I was wanting to say in this or that story. To these questions I never have any answer. There is nothing I want to say. My concern is to write, not to teach! And I can write about anything you like. ... Tell me to write about this bottle, and I will give you a story entitled "The Bottle." Living truthful images generate thought, but thought cannot create an image.
In my opinion it is not the writer's job to solve such problems as God, pessimism, etc; his job is merely to record who, under what conditions, said or thought what about God or pessimism. The artist is not meant to be a judge of his characters and what they say; his only job is to be an impartial witness. I heard two Russians in a muddled conversation about pessimism, a conversation that solved nothing; all I am bound to do is reproduce that conversation exactly as I heard it. Drawing conclusions is up to the jury, that is, the readers. My only job is to be talented, that is, to know how to distinguish important testimony from unimportant, to place my characters in the proper light and speak their language. To Alexei Suvorin, May 30, 1888
"Do you know," Ivan Bunin recalls Anton Chekhov saying to him in 1899, near the end of his too-short life, "for how many years I shall be read? Seven." "Why seven?" Bunin asked. "Well," Chekhov answered, "seven and a half then." quoted by Donald Fanger, New York Times, March 14, 1999
Your statement that the world is "teeming with villains and villainesses" is true. Human nature is imperfect, so it would be odd to perceive none but the righteous. Requiring literature to dig up a "pearl" from the pack of villains is tantamount to negating literature altogether. Literature is accepted as an art because it depicts life as it actually is. Its aim is the truth, unconditional and honest. Limiting its functions to as narrow a field as extracting "pearls" would be as deadly for art as requiring Levitan to draw a tree without any dirty bark or yellowed leaves. A "pearl" is a fine thing, I agree. But the writer is not a pastry chef, he is not a cosmetician and not an entertainer. He is a man bound by contract to his sense of duty and to his conscience. Once he undertakes this task, it is too late for excuses, and no matter how horrified, he must do battle with his squeamishness and sully his imagination with the grime of life. He is just like any ordinary reporter. What would you say if a newspaper reporter as a result of squeamishness or a desire to please his readers were to limit his descriptions to honest city fathers, high-minded ladies, and virtuous railroadmen?
To a chemist there is nothing impure on earth. The writer should be just as objective as the chemist; he should liberate himself from everyday subjectivity and acknowledge that manure piles play a highly respectable role in the landscape and that evil passions are every bit as much a part of life as good ones. To Maria Kiselyova, January 14, 1887 Chekhov: Another piece of advice: when you read proof cross out as many adjectives and adverbs as you can. You have so many modifiers that the reader has trouble understanding and gets worn out. It is comprehensible when I write: "The man sat on the grass," because it is clear and does not detain one's attention. On the other hand, it is difficult to figure out and hard on the brain if I write: "The tall, narrow-chested man of medium height and with a red beard sat down on the green grass that had already been trampled down by the pedestrians, sat down silently, looking around timidly and fearfully." The brain can't grasp all that at once, and art must be grasped at once, instantaneously. And then one other thing. You are lyrical by nature, the timber of your soul is soft. If you were a composer you would avoid writing marches. It is unnatural for your talent to curse, shout, taunt, denounce with rage. Therefore, you'll understand if I advise you, in proofreading, to eliminate the "sons of bitches," "curs," and "flea-bitten mutts" that appear here and there on the pages of Life. To Maxim Gorky, September 3, 1899
DRAMATURGY AND SEMIOTICS: "If you put our profession in historical perspective, though, things don't look so bad. We've only been around the American theatre (consciously, as dramaturgs) for 20 years or so, and we've made some real progress. When you consider that many people still don't know what a theatre is for, their ignorance about dramaturgy is scarcely surprising. But this is no cosmic state which we must endure, it's a situation which we can help to change. If part of the problem is semiotic, perhaps part of the solution is as well. As Michael Bigelow Dixon, Literary Manager of Actors Theater of Louisville says, "The word 'dramaturg' is like the word 'fuck.' They'll get used to it."
They'll get used to us, too. (David Copelin. LMDA Review 1989: 5.)
My Russian Hyper-Drama is another writing project for the Summer of 2003 *


The classics and western drama. Connect to SHOWS. No, thanks, I will continue to write with the broken English.... Chekhov: If there is a gun hanging on the wall in the first act, it must fire in the last.


Maybe this could explain, why I do not teach playwrighting (from my mailbox):

"The Story Design class is designed to teach a writer how to create an original story that could be developed into a popular Hollywood movie.
Topics covered in class will include creating characters, the protagonist, the antagonist, the love interest, audience empathy and the psychology of the audience. Techniques of story design such as the construction of primary objectives, subgoals and plot twists will be presented. At the end of the workshop each student should have written a detailed plot outline of an original story that could be produced as a feature film."

Think about it -- "an original story into a polular Hollywood movie"? Original? "Plot twists"? "Orinigal story that could be produced as a feature film"?... More? "Sept 9: Popular Hollywood Movies * Sept 16: The Psychology of the Audience * Sept 23: Character Development * Sept 30: Story Objectives, Subgoals and Plot Twists"...

Listen, learn from the real masters -- read masterpieces!

Next: Russian American Theatre
Chekhov: I think descriptions of nature should be very short and always be propos. Commonplaces like "The setting sun, sinking into the waves of the darkening sea, cast its purple gold rays, etc," "Swallows, flitting over the surface of the water, twittered gaily" eliminate such commonplaces. You have to choose small details in describing nature, grouping them in such a way that if you close your eyes after reading it you can picture the whole thing. For example, you'll get a picture of a moonlit night if you write that on the dam of the mill a piece of broken bottle flashed like a bright star and the black shadow of a dog or a wolf rolled by like a ball, etc. ... In the realm of psychology you also need details. God preserve you from commonplaces. Best of all, shun all descriptions of the characters' spiritual state. You must try to have that state emerge clearly from their actions. Don't try for too many characters. The center of gravity should reside in two: he and she. To AP Chekhov, May 10, 1886 DRAMATURGY: "A script comes in at my theatre, and I'm the first one who is apt to fall in love with it.... [S]ometimes there's no director for that play yet. Okay now, I may not choose the director, but the fact is, once it goes into production I have had the longest relationship with that play of anybody at that theatre." Tim Sanford, Dramatists Guild Symposium

DRAMATURGY: "It's ... an enormous asset to have somebody who can not only speak in terms of history but also understands the form, who understands that any play written today is descended from a series of traditions of form and can remind me as I am working that this form exists: 'Do you want to follow those rules? Do you want to break those rules? What do you want to do?' It's somebody that challenges me to articulate what I feel and think, which in the heat of doing things, you don't always stay in touch with. (James C. Nicola, Dramatists Guild Symposium) DRAMATURGY: "The play asks a question. A great play asks more than one. The job of the dramaturg is to help all the artists and the audience to ask the same question of themselves. The journey of the theater is self-discovery." (Jayme Koszyn, dramaturg, The Huntington Theatre) DRAMTURGY: Working as a dramaturg with a playwright is the most intimate experience outside marriage that I've experienced. (Harriet Power, dramaturg, Venture Theatre)

Quotes are from Dramaturgy in American Theatre: A Source Book, copyright (c) Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1996; see also the The LMDA Bibliography. [A 600+ page anthology of essays, articles, and resource materials on dramaturgy and literary management from over 40 contributors edited by Susan Jonas and Geoff Proehl with consulting editor, Michael Lupu.]

Chekhov: I will begin with what in my opinion is your lack of restraint. You are like a spectator in a theatre who expresses his enthusiasm so unrestrainedly that he prevents himself and others from hearing. That lack of restraint is particularly noticeable in the descriptions of nature with which you interrupt dialogues; when one reads them, these descriptions, one wishes they were more compact, shorter, say two or three lines. -- To Maxim Gorky, December 3, 1898

I long to embrace, to include in my own short life, all that is accessible to man. I long to speak, to read, to wield a hammer in a great factory, to keep watch at sea, to plow. I want to be walking along the Nevsky Prospect, or in the open fields, or on the ocean wherever my imagination ranges. -- Anton Chekhov
Chekhov: You are right in demanding that an artist approach his work consciously, but you are confusing two concepts: the solution of a problem and the correct formulation of a problem. Only the second is required of the artist. --To Alexei Suvorin, October 27, 1888
It is time for writers to admit that nothing in this world makes sense. Only fools and charlatans think they know and understand everything. The stupider they are, the wider they conceive their horizons to be. And if an artist decides to declare that he understands nothing of what he sees this in itself constitutes a considerable clarity in the realm of thought, and a great step forward. To Alexei Suvorin, May 30, 1888
One must be a god to be able to tell successes from failures without making a mistake.
My business is to be talented, that is, to be capable of selecting the important moments from the trivial ones. ... It's about time for writers particularly those who are genuine artists to recognize that in this world you cannot figure out everything. Just have a writer who the crowds trust be courageous enough and declare that he does not understand everything, and that lone will represent a major contribution to the way people think, a long leap forward.
I still lack a political, religious and philosophical world view I change it every month and so I'll have to limit myself to descriptions of how my heroes love, marry, give birth, die, and how they speak. To Dmitry Grigorovich, October 9, 1888

Playwrights called didaskalas (teacher) -- [didactic = teaching].

Famous For 15 Minutes

New Play Festival

HOW: Write a 15 minute play and submit it to the FAMOUS FOR 15 MINUTES NEW PLAY FESTIVAL
FAME: The FAMOUS FOR 15 MINUTES NEW PLAY FESTIVAL will present new plays written by UAF students, faculty, staff and alumni in April, 2005. Playwrights will work with a dramaturge, director, and actors for production.
FORTUNE: Student written 15 minute plays will be eligible for PLAYWRITING AWARD. The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony following the final performances, receive $50, production in the Festival and possible publication.

1.) Anyone associated with UAF may submit a fifteen minute play for possible production in the festival. All scripts welcome! Only UAF students are eligible for the Annual Playwriting Award.
2.) All submissions must be typed with page numbers and securely bound.
3.) The play must be no longer than 15 minutes in length (approximately 15 typed pages).
4.) Plays in both English and other languages are eligible.
5.) The script must have the playwrights name, address, telephone number, and e-mail on the title page.
6.) Entries will not be returned! So keep a copy for yourself.

WHERE: Submit to Maya Salganek UAF Theatre Office or Timaree McCormick in Fine Arts Room 109.

WHEN: THE DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION IS 31 JANUARY, 2005. The plays chosen for production will be announced by 17 February 2005.

QUESTIONS: For more information contact SDA ( fest )

Sponsored by Theatre UAF

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Shaw -- Pygmalion