Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Susan Kim on teaching dramatic writing

Teaching dramatic writing isn’t like instructing someone how to ride a bicycle or mend a broken pipe. Writing is unique and idiosyncratic, a deeply personal form of communication. It’s informed by not only the past and present, but by one’s identity, imagination, values, aesthetics, politics, sense of humor, appreciation of tragedy. At the same time, good writing demands not just aptitude; it requires intense discipline, resilience, openness, and patience. It takes bravery, a clear eye, and heart. As a teacher, I try to encourage personal expression while reinforcing the discipline of craft. I help students identify and clarify their voice and the story they’re trying to tell. At the same time, I teach them the basic tools of dramatic writing and how to use (or perhaps even subvert) them: structure, plot, character, action. How do you shape a play, anyway? Or a screenplay? How do you maximize the potential of the stage or screen? Most of all, I try to empower all my students to open up to the vast creative potential within them, and to help them find its best expression.

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