two hours with jeffrey sweet, part three

There were a few things I missed saying in first part of this series, about Sweet’s writing recommendations, and the second, about his industry advice.  Hence, part three.

This is a sort of laundry-list of dicta, to all of which I subscribe and aspire.

When you read a play, need to be able to find the theatrical event, aka the Dramatic Question.

Often the first 10 pages are like scaffolding when building a building – and just as often, playwrights forget to take it down.

There are two kinds of readings: one to expose the flaws so one can make it a better play; the one for backers is meant to obscure the flaws.

A play is always about who wants what and how they’ll behave to accomplish it.

All scenes are negotiations. Reveal the negotiation between characters by putting the right object between them. That object can and should transform, like the pasta in THE ODD COUPLE.  Object can also be used as metaphors: In Shakespeare’s HENRY VI, part 3, Margaret offers York a handkerchief (an object of sympathy) that has his son’s blood on it.

Characters seldom know each others’ objectives.

Improv Rule:  Anything that has been established (How was your flight from Portland?) is accepted, not ever denied.

Stage directions: only tell physical activity if necessary, and never qualitatively.  Yes, mention the objects, but as sparsely as possible, and only if they’re used in the scene.

There are three levels of logic: the playwright’s story, each character’s perspective, and the audience perspective.

There was more, this workshop really was a goldmine, and I cannot urge you strongly enough to spend time around this multitalented, multifaceted writer and performer.

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