MA Playwriting / Course details
Year of entry: 2021
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Course unit details:
|Unit level||FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree|
|Teaching period(s)||Full year|
|Available as a free choice unit?||No|
This module is focused on the writing of a polished, industry-standard festival or main house play, drawing on learning across the programme. The theme and form of the play will be decided by the student, supported by tutors. You may choose between the following options: to develop the short play written for ‘Playwriting and Structure’ into a full-length, main house play; to develop the adaptation begun as part of ‘The Working Playwright’ module into a full-length play or to propose an entirely new version of a Festival or main house play, drawing on an idea (character, narrative or motif) connected to your work from any part of the programme. The module is support by one-to-one supervision with course tutors.
You will be expected to start thinking about your final project at the beginning of the second semester. To begin, you will present several ideas in brief to be discussed with the tutor. On the basis of those discussions you will decide which idea merits developing and for what reasons. You will log all of these discussions as a way of reflecting on what you are learning, and how your ideas have changed. You will then develop the idea by fleshing out the story and main character outlines into a treatment form through the second semester. By the end of the second semester you will take the script to a rough first draft stage which will then be discussed with your tutor.
Throughout the module you will be encouraged to read and watch plays from the genre you are working in to improve your expertise and knowledge and help you understand where your project is placed within this pantheon. Your development on this module is supported by the seminars and workshops undertaken as part of ‘The Festival Play’ module, where you will have an opportunity to explore your ideas with peers and course tutors in a group setting.
During the summer the student will send the stages of the script to their supervisor and in-depth dramaturgical consultations will follow which mirror industry practice. This will include giving in-depth written and oral notes, and offering help with problem areas of the script.
The unit aims to:
- Refine and extend your playwriting skills so you are able to critically evaluate your writing process and work to a professional standard
- Fully equip you with the knowledge and skills necessary to produce the final draft of a play for the stage
- Develop your ability to work independently, including your confidence in exercising initiative, making difficult creative decisions, evaluating your progress, and ability to complete a major project to a deadline
Teaching and learning methods
This module is designed to work in partnership with The Festival Play module. During that module, you will consider the distinctions between a festival and main house play, and have an opportunity to reflect on your developing ideas in a writers’ room setting and providing an opportunity to workshop developing play ideas and give and receive feedback. Following this, you will have a minimum of three individual supervisions with a course tutor, focused on in-depth dramaturgical consultations. This will include giving in-depth written and oral notes, and offering help with problem areas of the script.
The course unit will be complemented by a Blackboard site that conforms to minimum requirements including a course handbook, weekly course breakdown, provision of reading material, reading lists. Supplementary material from workshops will be added as appropriate.
Knowledge and understanding
Demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of script construction both in general and in relation to specific formats, styles and genres.
Demonstrate a systematic knowledge and understanding of the production process in playwriting from initial pitch to research and development, working with a dramaturg to final draft.
Effectively and imaginatively respond to professional feedback.
Fully and effectively reflect on your own learning and development.
Develop a script from initial idea to first draft and then to final draft.
Effectively present yourself and your script ideas both verbally and in writing.
Work effectively and flexibly with others on develop and honing script ideas.
Enhance your ability to use a workshop environment to develop specific scenarios and sections of a script.
Transferable skills and personal qualities
Communicate your ideas effectively both verbally and in writing.
Manage your time and workload effectively in order to meet deadlines.
Work effectively and independently to research, draft and re-draft, critically evaluate, revise and complete a substantial project.
|A full-length festival or mainhouse play (45 – 75 pages).||100%|
Formative feedback (written and oral) provided via individual supervision and via The Festival Play module.
You are encouraged to read widely, and to especially read plays that are related to the genre and form of your play. Individual supervisors and staff from Centre for New Writing and Drama Department are available for advice on specific suggestions. The libraries (Lenagan library in the Martin Harris Centre and the Main library) have a range of works which you can browse, and you have access to Methuen Drama Online and Digital Theatre Plus. Drama Online provides digital access to more than 2500 plays published by Bloomsbury, Aurora Metro Books, Nick Hern Books and Playwrights Canada Press, as well as a range of audio-visual and textual sources. 300+ audiovisual recordings of theatre productions from the UK and a stunning range of productions from a range of international contexts (and additional textual and audio-visual resources, including interviews with performers and playwrights).
Ayckbourn, A (2004) The Crafty Art of Playmaking London: Faber & Faber
Brooker, C (2004) The Seven Basic Plots, London: Continuum Books
Cartmell & Whelehan eds. (1999) Adaptations: From Text to Screen, Screen to Text, London: Routledge
Caulfield, A (2009) Writing for Radio: A Practical Guide, Ramsbury: Crowood Press
Dunne, W (2009) The Dramatic Writer’s Companion
Edgar, D (2009) How Plays Work, London: Nick Hern Books
Fountain, T (2007) So You Want To Be A Playwright? London: Nick Hern Books
Frayn, M (2009) Constructions, London: Faber and Faber
Gill, P (2008) Apprenticeship, London: Oberon Books
Gooch, S (2001) Writing A Play: Third Edition, London: A&C Black
Goode, C (2014) The Forest and the Field: Changing Theatre in a Changing World, London: Oberon
Greig, N (2004) Playwriting – a practical guide, London: Routledge
Hammond & Steward eds. (2008) Verbatim Verbatim: Techniques in Contemporary Documentary Theatre, London: Oberon Books
Hutcheon, L (2006) A Theory of Adaptation, London: Routledge
Jeffreys , S (2019) Playwriting: Structure, Character, How and What to Write, Nick Hern
Jester, C & Caridad Svich (2017) Fifty playwrights on their craft, Bloomsbury/Methuen
McKee, R (1999) Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting, London: Methuen
Omasta, M and N. B. Adkins (2017) Playwriting and Young Audiences: Collected Wisdom and Practical Advice from the Field, Bristol: Intellect
Sanders, J (2005) Adaptation and Appropriation: Routledge
Sigal, S (2016) Writing in Collaborative Theatre-Making, Palgrave
Spencer, S (2002) The Playwright’s Guidebook, London: Faber and Faber
Stephens, S (2016) Simon Stephens: A Working Diary, London: Bloomsbury Methuen
Unwin, S (2011) The Well Read Play, London: Oberon Books
Vogler, C (1996) The Writer’s Journey, London: Pan Books
Waters, S (2010) The Secret Life of Plays, London: Nick Hern Books
There are also a wealth of resources that you might find useful online including:
TheatreVoice - http://www.theatrevoice.com/Independent study hours