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Playwriting

"An ABC of Writing"
29 days

Phyllis Nagy, Author, New York
Studied, among other subjects, Musicology and Composition at the Universities of Virginia and New York. Since 1992, Phyllis Nagy has been living and working in London. She writes plays, screenplays and radio plays and is one of the out-standing talents of the younger generation of authors. Her plays have been staged at numerous theatres, e.g. the Royal Court Theatre, the Nottingham Playhouse, the Watford Palace Theatre, the Almeida Theatre Company, as well as at international theatres. Currently, she is writing new plays for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal Court Theatre.

"The structure of music is very similar to the structure of drama. A playwright who doesn't understand the relation between music and drama is lost forever. I would rather never read or see a play again than never again read or hear a score."

One could say much about the musicality of her plays, about "leitmotiv" or her use of counterpoint, but that would not pay tribute to the "pulpy" and populist approach of her plays. Her plays, all of which she calls comedies, "no matter how sombre they may be", revolve around questions of identity (personal, sexual, national, political), uprooting, morals and violence. Her characters, pawn-brokers, unemployed Ku-Klux-Klan-terrorists, untalented female singers, private policemen, souvenir salesgirls, stigmatised lesbians, are already in the depths of catastrophe, which they fight with a quick wit and insolence, because:

"without humour, there is no humanity, but sentimentality is the great enemy of humanity in drama." "I will take them through the process of writing a complete play, from the beginning to the end. I will address issues including - what is dramatic action, how is it actually formed, the importance of metaphor, the importance of setting, the relative unimportance of dialogue, the structure of drama mirroring the structure of music, the use and mis-use of monologue, the building of character, the importance of understanding the difference between plot and narrative, the use of humour, the nature of political drama - and other such related topics. Text analysis using classical and contemporary drama examples. There will be much in-class writing done and practical exercises."

Phyllis Nagy has invited another author and a director to join her course:
David Harrower, Author, Edinburgh, 5 days
Studied English and American Literature and Art. He lives in Glasgow and has worked as a dishwasher. He protested against the stationing of English nuclear submarines in Scotland. In 1995, Knives in Hens was staged at the Traverse Theatre (Edinburgh) and the Bush Theatre (London).and in the Baracke am Deutschen Theater, Berlin directed by Thomas Ostermeier. It was voted best foreign play by the magazine "Theater heute" in 1997. David Harrower is currently writing for the Traverse Theatre, the Royal Court Theatre, the Royal National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Orit Azaz, Director, London, 8 days
Studied Philosophy and Psychology. Works as a freelance director at various theatres. Since 1993, with her own theatre company "The Common Sense", she produces large scale interdisciplinary projects in which non-theatre spaces are transformed into theatrical events. Most recently, she devised and directed Prophecy, a mixed media circus-theatre performance researched, created and performed by over 350 local people. " There is hardly any place left on the planet that has not been colonised by facts. The visitor to any patch of land has watched an information video, or has consulted the Net, or is part of a coach-tour with a helpful guide. What other strategies beyond factual details, selected anecdotes and official history can we use to engage with reality? In this week-long intensive project, we will explore the possible relationships between reality and drama."