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April 3, 2007

On Play-writing, with Ed Shockley

Yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure of attending a playwriting workshop held by the Theatre Dept. here at SHU. Ed Shockley was the playwright, and he was visiting, from what I know, because one of the seniors here directed a show he wrote. (How many seniors have the playwright come in?!)

I received an email from a faculty member telling me about the workshop on Friday. Since I'm an English major, I have some experience writing in a number of genres--but not play-writing. Naturally I was interested, but what piqued my interest was the fact that the playwright would be conducting the workshop!

Gathered in the classroom space in St. Mary's, about fifteen of us talked with Mr. Shockley about the craft vs. art of play-writing. He used an analogy of a cartwright--someone can be taught to craft a wheel, but to make it with style or invention that person has to know the art. He asked us what we wanted to get out of the workshop, and I said I wanted to learn conventions and beyond them (since conventions are in books all over the place). He said I'd be pleased with what I took away. And I was.

Mr. Shockley was energetic from the moment we began. He had a variety of activities planned for us that prompted discussion about elements in drama and audience stimulation. (I liked this since, instead of just listing elements and telling us about them, we practiced them and recognized them through the practice... made me think he was a teacher in disguise... when later I found out that does teach, haha.)

I learned a lot from the workshop overall. I took some notes and laughed a lot. I enjoyed the company of my fellow students and getting to know Mr. Shockley. What I found most stimulating, though, is this: "What makes you a good writer is not how well you write, it's how well you see." This clicked with me--it went back to showing and not telling, preventing misinterpretation by the audience, and the need to write daily and write whatever comes and suddenly all these concepts and more came together and I understood something about play-writing.

If Mr. Shockley finds this I hope he knows that we had a great time, and that I learned what I hope to learn and more.

Posted by KarissaKilgore at April 3, 2007 9:10 PM


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