Last night I started a playwriting workshop being taught by Liz Duffy Adams through the Playwrights Foundation. I’ve taken several workshops through the Playwrights Foundation and they’re always really great. This one, though, is even more near-and-dear to me because it uses the Tao Te Ching as a springboard for writing exercises.
I’ve been following the Tao (as best as one can) and have read several translations of the Tao Te Ching over the years. I’d even go so far as to call myself a Taoist if that wasn’t absurd because you can’t really be a Taoist since the -ist implies a dogma and the whole point is there is no dogma. (I mean, the opening line is “The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.”)
Whatever. I didn’t mean to get off on a philosophical discussion. The point is that the writing exercises in the class are inspired by verses of the Tao Te Ching, and even during the first class I had a breakthrough in a new play I’m getting ready to start. I’m not gonna get into all the exercises and give a blow-by-blow because (a) they’re Liz’s exercises and who am I to give them away and (b) I don’t want to ruin any surprises for people who take the class later down the line and (c) I can never remember how the exercises were set up in the first place.
Suffice it to say that in writing a scene with a random character who is not our protagonist, I stumbled upon a character who would actually make a much better protagonist for the story I want to tell. So even after just three hours, I’ve already got my money worth.