Sunday, September 30, 2012

Mike Perkins' script, "" was a fun, lively reading, and an even livelier workshop session. This session taught me that even with just a few folks, a script can be workshopped and new ideas for story and character development can be introduced.

Jay Asher and I read the script, Christian Vincent started the session with us, then the internet between the US and France seemed to have difficulty, but we found we could read the parts and go through the session with even just a couple of participants. (My thanks to Christian for trying to re-connect; I appreciate the help with all the sessions!)

After reading the script Mike, Jay and I had a great discussion of the interplay between the characters, and the connective tissue that we wanted to see more strongly displayed. Jay added personal experience to his view of the characters (he is in the field the play was focused on), and the workshop actually ran over by ten minutes.

A new element that we discussed (that we haven't focused on in any sessions to-date) was the notion of how easy/hard it would be to cast, both from a "numbers" perspective as well as from a gender perspective. Mike's characters can be any gender, and this makes it an interesting script, indeed.

My thanks to Mike for the script and to Jay for his critique. I enjoyed the session, and actually found the video helpful for the first time (Jay and I had success with the webcams), allowing me to feel like I was in the same room with Jay.

You can of the session.

I'm not sure who is having more fun with this project, or who is getting the most bang for the buck, but this session really showed me what happens when a script gets read by new folks and the author asks for our responses.

Michael Trottier's script, "," came out of a situation that happened on his college campus last year, and tackles the issue of violence in a college community. He introduces brotherly love, turmoil, suicide and wraps it all up with a story that is both compelling to read and one which brought the workshop to a flow of ideas and roads that could be pursued.

This was the first session that really brought out new ideas for story development and proposed new ways of weaving the characters together to focus on the critical themes of the script. Michael was open and ready for critique, even though his script is already developed into a strong story. He was the ultimate author, though, and listened as we talked about his characters getting tighter and more interwoven, and the themes of the plot distilled to the essential elements. I think this was one of the best workshops so far.

My thanks to Michael and Cate for a great session that allowed me to experience introducing new script ideas into sessions in an effective way as a facilitator.

You can of the session.

Session #6 was cancelled and motivated me to put another call for workshoppers out. and join the fun. The workshops truly are fun (and, I hope) helpful. I am learning about being a workshop facilitator as well as critic, and am getting to read some great scripts.


Saturday, September 29, 2012

If I didn't know any better, I'd think I was just out of the theater in New York City. Maybe it's because Darren Caulley's script, "," is so poignantly written. Clear and crisp dialogue, historical musings, and a bit of colonial-era Puritanism come together to form a compelling tale.

This TMPW session was the first time we got the webcams working, and I am still reflecting on whether they helped or hindered the session. On the one hand, I liked seeing Cate and Darren (Christian was on his iPhone, which doesn't yet do video through GoToMeeting), and feel like I know them a little better than when I had only heard their voices (they've all been on previous TMPW sessions!). But, during the reading of the script, I found the video distracting. I almost wanted video for the introductions, then audio only for the reading of the script, then video again for the workshopping.

For the workshop questions, I fear I'm getting into a bit of a rut already, and not deviating from the basic questions I have used for the sessions so far:
  • Initial responses
  • Character depth
  • Story progression
  • Title
  • Production worthy?
  • Production ready?
If anyone has some new questions I could be using, please leave a comment on this post. I'll also continue my search for writings on the art of workshopping, but I have found very little so far.

My thanks to Darren for his script, and to Cate and Christian. All three of these folks are already becoming TMPW regulars; their involvement is making this a "go." If you want to join in, for one session or several,  and join in as a reader/critic or guest professor.

Here's the .

Wow! Elena Nesti tackles a huge theme in her script, "" and a full house of TMPW workshoppers got to participate.

Nesti's theme of carbo-phobia and food-related concerns with characters that she uses Snow White to portray is mixed with a techno-centered view of self (brought to life through another use of the "apple" theme). The script is a mix of a monologue that is interjected with a duplicative/reflective of Snow White.

It is a complicated script, and one which tackles large issues. Through a reading (and signing!) of the script, we came to understand the themes, and ask for them to be developed more poignantly in the text. Nesti's script was a great platform to look at workshopping a piece that she is actively developing, and morphing into a text that will be powerful.

During this session, I learned that the internet connection is a key component, and even asked the readers to start the script over, to preserve the continuity, after we lost some of the readers. No worries, though, we all had a great time workshopping this piece of intricate themes.

I didn't deviate from the bank of questions, but did ask Elena to participate throughout the workshop, as her piece is an evolving one, and we had some direct questions. I know this "breaks" the traditional rule  of having the author remain silent throughout the workshop, but I say to heck with the rules when there is real meaning to be had by breaking them!

My thanks to everyone for making this a great session, and to Elena Nesti for sharing her script with us.

You can of this session.

TMPW Session #3 was a rousing success with a great script and a full house of participants!

The script for session #3 was by Cate Vincent. Cate called in from a boat on a French canal, Rebecca Basham was our guest professor (and the sponsor of the Ten Minute Play Workshop), and Jay Asher and Darren Caulley were the critics.

We again experienced a weirdness with the web cams, and ran it as an audio-only session. Maybe it's better without video, and allows us to focus on the reading more. Darran just wrote me and suggessted a Google+ Hangout as a possibility to try to get the video portion working. I'll investigate that. There was also some audio-feedback, which is also on the audio recording, so I've got some techno-stuff to work on.

But, back to the session. The script and the reading, frankly, made me cry. For the workshopping section, I found myself using the questions I had used in , and adding the new question I picked up from Jeff Sweet's article on feedback (see more in this ), "If you had to summarize the theme of the play in one sentence, what would it be?" The answer overwhelmingly was the title of the play, so maybe I need to find a different question.

From this session I learned that there is something that happens when folks get together to focus on a script. It is unlike anything else I do as a student. The act of workshopping a piece of writing seems to bring out the best in folks. I feel privileged to be doing this.

You can listen to the sorry about the reverb in the recording...

You should have told me it was going to be hard to get folks to join in to read and critique! Maybe I'm unusual, but I love it when folks ask for my opinion about a piece of writing. I thought everyone did!

I had to cancel session #2 because I didn't have any folks to act as readers/critiquers. So, I made up a new TMPW rule: for every session an author gets to have their play workshopped, I am asking them to sign-up for at least two sessions as a reader/critiquer. My thanks to all the authors that have already done this, and my encouragement to all authors to join the community from both angles - as an author and as a reader/critiquer. If you want to join in the workshopping community, !

Instead of running the session, I spent some time reading Jeff Sweet's piece, . In it, he talks about the elements authors encounter when having their work in a "talk-back" session. He brings up some new questions I'm going to use in upcoming TMPW sessions. Here they are:
  • "Who do you think the central character of the play is?"
  • "What do you think she wants?"
  • "At what point did you realize the nature of the relationship between Character A and Character B?"
  • "If you had to summarize the theme of the play in a sentence, what would it be?"
My thanks to Mr. Sweet for these new ideas. Check out on .

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The first TMPW session featured by and was a poignant night of reading and workshopping. The script was excellent, the reading spirited, and the workshopping a wonderful first night of lessons.

The Ten Minute Play Workshop project is a study of the art of workshopping and the workshops are a way for me to reflect on the art of leading and participating in workshop sessions.

The first thing I learned was that the participants are as important as the author. This workshop was a strong mix of a very developed script and articulate feedback from the participants.

I armed myself with a list of elements and questions to make sure the critique part of the workshop kept moving. The basic elements I asked the participants to comment on were:
  • Initial responses: what did this script do for you?
  • Character depth: do we know them as much as you want to? Do you want more character development?
  • Story progression: flow? Tempo?
  • Title: did it intrigue you? Enough to encapsulate the whole script?
  • Production worthy? Production ready?
This outline gave the critique a standard flow, and led us through a ten minute critique session after the script was read. I think the elements were good, but that I need to allow for a deeper reflection time on each one, or find questions that are more open-ended. Lesson learned for next time: develop a richer set of questions to make the critique more verbose.

You can of the session to hear how it went. My thanks to James, Charlotte, Cate and Eddie for making this a great first session!

To join in as a workshop participant and be a part of the growing community of ten minute play workshoppers, - we have a blast!

Monday, September 24, 2012

February 25, 2013 Update: TMPW now has a podcast - subscribe to the podcast, or simply listen to each episode!

Point your browser to the iTunes link, or search for "Ten Minute Play Workshop" in the iTunes Store:

We had so many submissions for the fall 2012 semester, that we've had to halt submissions and instead ask folks to as workshoppers.

The on-line workshopping community is growing - become a part of it, and don't worry, we're so nuts about workshopping, we'll open submissions for the spring semester in November. Here's the cool part, if you're an active workshop participant, you get first-dibs at submitting your play for a spring 2012 workshop session, so as a live on-line workshopper and be a part of the community!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

So, it's been a little crazy here at TMPW over the past few weeks. We have eighty scripts that have been submitted! This has made us re-think how to handle the workshop sessions, and, since it's the next century already, we've decided to go global!

Starting next week, all workshop sessions will be multi-user video sessions on GoToMeeting - a multi-user video conferencing tool that will allow us to do live online workshops with folks from around the globe!

Join in the workshopping by using the SignUpGenius  (our thanks to  for their hosting of our registrations!)

We are doing 50 sessions this semester - join in the fun!

Once you sign-up, you'll receive the GoToMeeting link to join the online workshop two-days before the session begins. All you need to participate is a computer connected to the internet with a microphone (or a webcam, if you want to be a part of the live video session).

Read more about How the Workshops Work.

Each session will be audio-recorded and posted as a podcast on the TMPW web site, so by signing up you agree to be audio-recorded and a part of the podcast. (The video streaming is simply for the live online session and the video will not be recorded... thank heavens!)

Come on, you know you want to be a part of this new movement of online workshopping!