For the last three days I’ve been taking a class through the Playwrights Foundation’s New Plays Institute with the fabulous Sheila Callaghan. Sheila of DEAD CITY and WE ARE NOT THESE HANDS and CRUMBLE fame.
I love this class. It’s focused on finding characters through objects. Most beginning playwriting texts tell you to start from the inside of a character, writing down all this psychological crap that you pull out of the air and cobble together to create a character who’s often flat and fake. (“She has a peg leg, hates asparagus and loves to polka dance.”)
Sheila has us looking at objects and starting from the outside, imagining that a piece of fruit or a parking meter IS our character. Starting this way makes everything organic. And all the writing I’ve done for the class has been really alive and interesting to me because of this approach.
Plus, Enrique Urueta is in the class and I finally got to meet him. As you can tell by moseying over to the blogroll, I read his blog, but I’d never actually met him (even though he knows every damn person in the world). Turns out Enrique was on the selection committee for BASH and he had read my play and already knew who I was, too. I’m looking forward to talking to him more at the retreat portion of the Bay Area Playwrights Festival. (Which you might not know I’m in this year, if you haven’t been obsessively reading this blog from the bottom up.)