Playwriting at the Indiana Writers Center
Playwriting is alive and well at the IWC. Here's a blog post from Jeffrey Fites, a member of Andrew Black's advanced playwriting class. Want to write a play? Consider taking the next class Andy offers. He's a great teacher!
Questions? Call our office (317-255-0710) or e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The week before my first class at the Indiana Writers Center, I heard a remark on NPR that had a foreboding reference to writers’ workshops. The writer being interviewed suggested the experience was akin to being dragged through a cactus patch by wild horses. Having an aversion to cactus needles and overly energetic equine, I was not looking forward to the experience.
The morning I arrived at Andrew Black’s class, there were no wild horses in the parking lot, just a 2003 Mustang, and no cacti, although there was pleasant landscaping on the grounds near the building. Inside, the atmosphere was just as peaceful and congenial.
Since we are discussing playwriting or playwrighting, as some call it since it can be hard work, let me illustrate in play form how Andy always finds ways of reinforcing one’s confidence, even when the plot is rather "thin."
JEFFWell, that’s the end of the first act. I’m not really sure how I am going to begin Scene One in Act Two.
ANDREWWell, I found it fascinating that every character was violently killed by the end of the first act. However, you might consider allowing two or three characters to remain alive, so they have something to do in the second act...Just a thought, unless, of course, the rest of the play is about the ghosts of characters past.
JEFFNo, this is definitely a love story -- without ghosts. Having live characters would make Act Two a bit easier to write. It possibly would be more interesting for the audience than having an empty stage for the second hour.
ANDREWPossibly...I think you are on the right track now Jeff. Hopefully it is a track not well-traveled by freight trains. One other thing, you might consider not making this a children’s play. The bloody rampage in the final scene of Act One might be a tad intense for five-year-olds or at least for their parents. Just a suggestion.....
It is absolutely true that Andrew has tremendous patience as he accentuates the positive. Likewise, my fellow students were insightful, but always kind in their suggestions. Their feedback was invariably helpful and resulted in numerous rewrites that improved the play.
While I didn’t write a love story featuring a bloody rampage that killed every character in Act One, I did complete a short play titled "Unheard Wishes." It is about a truly good man, named Jacob Cohen, who becomes homeless after a series of personal tragedies. One day in Central Park, as he searches for food in a trash can, Jacob finds an ancient bottle. You guessed it. There is a genie residing in this low-rent bottle. He is a hard-of-hearing genie, which causes its own problems. This will be a day that brings about unexpected changes for Jacob Cohen.
The play was accepted for a formal reading as part of the Theatre by the Bay’s Original Plays Festival in August in Bayside, New York, across the bridge from Manhattan.
I offer my sincere thanks to Andy and my fellow students for helping me shape the play into a work will come to life later this summer.