Posted in Teaching, Theatre, Writing

ENG 126: Drama Workshop, Session 1

Welcome to our first drama workshop and our first WordPress gathering. Although I wouldn’t have chosen for us to work exclusively online as a community of writers, I value the opportunity that it will afford us, in May, to look back and weigh the merits of the two versions of our class: the before and the after–or, more accurately, the before and during (COVID-19 time).

The points I have included below are not ones that you’re required to address in your comments. I offer them as suggestions only. I will probably address some of them in the follow-up remarks that I’ll post at the beginning of our second session.

  • From the first line of the play, we know what one of the characters wants. What do other characters want? How do the conflicts among their desires advance the action?
  • In Imaginative Writing, Janet Burroway notes that “good dialogue will convey most of its tone as an integral part of the lines, and when this is the case, there is no need to announce the tone of voice in a stage direction” (327). Are all of the tonal directions necessary? If not, which ones could be omitted?
  • The particular day, year, and hour of the setting are essential to the play. Are any other time or setting cues essential as well?
  • What is the symbolic significance of the ’87 black Chevy Silverado? What other set pieces take on symbolic significance?
  • What plays, if any–ones in Imaginative Writing or others that you’ve read–would you recommend to the writer as models or possible sources of inspiration?
  • And lastly, some what ifs: What if Harry and Henry were never on stage at the same time? What if Sally was alone with Harry at the beginning of scene 1? She could still make the same mistake, and Harry could still correct her–but then what?

Post your response of twenty-five words or more as a reply. If you address a point that one of your classmates has written in a previous reply, mention that classmate by name in your own reply.

You are welcome to post more than once.

Remember to check your CVCC email and Blackboard regularly for updates and assignments.


5 thoughts on “ENG 126: Drama Workshop, Session 1

  1. There are some really interesting and clever ideas in this piece. The whole concept of twins and a character who can’t tell them apart is a lot of fun. I will say it be hard to keep track of with their names being Henry and Harry, but that’s not necessarily something that needs to be changed. I also enjoy the overall setup of the story.

    My biggest criticism would be that this story doesn’t realty feel like it takes advantage of the unique potential of dramas as a medium. It feels like a scene from a movie or a book that has been translated into a play with little changed. I think this might be meant as a screenplay, but I think it lacks necessary details for a director be able to work off it while also requiring things that are hard/impossible in a play. How does a character change appearance mid scene in a play?

    There were a few other things that bothered me. The whole fact that the twins were adopted is interesting, but I don’t think it added anything to the story. I think it would be better left out. There a ton of stage direction, many of which are needed because there is a lot of movement in this story, but some don’t add anything. For example, “panicking while shouting,” “confused at the scene,” and “still in disbelief” don’t add anything that isn’t already present in the dialogue.

    Anyways, I really did like this piece. I think it would better as a short story, and I would definitely read that.

  2. “Twins of An Ill Fate” had a lot of interesting ideas and plot devices, but they didn’t really fit as seamlessly as they could have. For instance, why was it important to know that the twins were adopted? Was this part of the reason the Grim Reaper decided to kill Henry? If not, what was the reason?
    Another critique would be that there are some places where it writes more like a movie than a script. For instance, using the time skip as they walked to their house would be hard to do on a stage, because any amount of time that passes needs to be filled with dialogue or actions (unless you wanted to cut to black and do a scene change).

    Overall, I think that this piece needs to be fleshed out a bit more. This could simply be because of time constraints and trying to keep it short for the sake of the assignment, but regardless, it’s an easy fix. With enough attention and detail, this could be a very intriguing story!

  3. After reading “Twins of an Ill Fate”, I found I had some of the same sentiments towards the piece as Brennan (@brennancott). I thought that the premise of the story was both unique and interesting. The set up presented by the story allows for a lot of development for both the world it is set within and the characters that inhabit it. Twins have long held significance in many cultures over the course of human history through their link one another and the spiritual implications that an empathetic of that level could have and is thus explored through various stories such as the founding myth of Rome that were also adopted and very similar in terms of ambition and aptitude. Twins provide an excellent opportunity to explore themes of nature versus nurture, social symmetry, and physiological dichotomy as well as individuality and determinism. I think some of the stage directions could be condensed into the segments that have a clear and defined impact on the progression of the narrative. In summary I think this story is excellent and full of potential but its presentation as a piece of drama could be slightly altered to allow for instant and drastic improvement.

    Thank you for your time and consideration,
    Trevor White

  4. I really enjoyed some parts of this piece. The relationship between twins is always an interesting thing to explore and I particularly enjoyed the way that the angel turned into the grim reaper. However the piece feels almost empty to me.

    As of now Margret and Sally don’t really have a purpose. Past the first line where Sally forgets which twin is which she doesn’t add anything to the story. All that Margret does is reveal that the twins were adopted, which is an interesting plot point but, as Brennan said in his reply, it never goes anywhere or contribute to the story.

    There are very good, for lack of a better word, “pillars” to the story. Sally provides a good introduction to allow us to meet the twins and see how they interact with each other. Margret hiding the fact that the twins are adopted allows further development of the relationship between the twins as it shows how they deal with a common “enemy”.

    In my opinion this story relies on the relationship between the twins and, as of now, that relationship boils down to them being twins. I think that the story needs to revolve around this relationship. Every character and conflict should develop this relationship so that when Henry is killed we sympathize with Harry.

    P.S. Like Brennan, I also had trouble keeping track of who was where between Henry and Harry. This does not necessarily mean they need a name change, just something to keep in mind.

  5. I agree with much that was said, but I would like to add how the time of the play apparently starts at 5:55 and ends at 6:66. After further research, the number 555 indicates change and the number 666 as we all might know is the devil’s number which can also represent evil. Also, how is it possible for the tie to ever be 6:66? Though it can be the author’s way of indicating the Grimm Reaper. If that was the case then Angel, being described in light colors, would be in contrary with the ’87 black Chevy Silverado that is mentioned in color wise, that is. If colors were to take meaning then having Angel who is described with light colors, which can represent good, and Grim Reaper and the car described in dark colors, which can represent death, fear, mystery, and evil.

    I also found it quite difficult in keeping track between Henry and Harry, though that may have then the author’s intentions. Just like how the other character, Sally, couldn’t tell them apart it plays in allowing the reader to have a harder time telling the twins apart.

    In the description of the characters, Angel and Grim Reaper were the only characters that had the most description. More could have been added into the two character, if they were given such a big description, unless the author had meant to give a meaning to the description in the piece. Like making the other character notice the light and dark contrast in the two characters.

    I also agree that Margret and Sally do not really have a purpose. They seem as though they are just characters who were added to help with creating tension or bring up problems, with the other characters being the main focus.

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