"An ABC of Writing"
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
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."