Playwriting: A Practical Guide for Students of All Ages

By Noël Greig | Go to book overview

3

Issue

Theatre that tackles specific contemporary social or political issues - with the aim of leading to or encouraging some type of change - has very deep roots around the world. It takes many forms and is found in many contexts. In India I have seen companies of actors working in the bastis (shanty towns), playing to hundreds of people and raising questions about matters that directly relate to the lives of their audience: the inequality of women, government corruption, public transport, etc. Forum Theatre, pioneered by Augusto Boal in Brazil, invites members of the audience to participate in the onstage action and affect the outcome of the debate. It has been used as a vehicle for change in struggles taking place in factories, communities and even in the Brazilian government. So it is always worth remembering that 'theatre' and 'plays' do not necessarily have their home in comfortable arts-centres, and have always had a historical connection with social and political struggles. The movements in theatre that have been conscious of the educational aspect of the work may often be invisible or unrecorded, but they hold a central place in our craft. In the UK in the past decades, groups of people and individual writers made theatre that addressed their own concerns, thus making them the concerns of the wider population: ex-offenders talking about prison conditions and the failings of the justice system, homeless people demonstrating that they are more than a label, black and Asian artists creating their own narratives and styles of work. All taking, to different degrees, an 'issue' which needs public airing through the imaginative capacities of performance.

In the 1970s in the UK a form of theatre was pioneered that placed work in the educational context: Theatre-in-Education (TIE). The plays were very often 'single-issue', raising questions in an informative and provocative way, and were preceded or followed by interactive workshops. Areas of immediate concern, often difficult for the teacher to address directly in the classroom, were expressed in a robust, dramatic form: race-relations, bullying, sexuality,

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Playwriting: A Practical Guide for Students of All Ages
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Noël Greig iii
  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • Preface xii
  • Acknowledgements xv
  • 1 - Getting Going and Warming Up 1
  • 2 - Theme 43
  • 3 - Issue 47
  • 4 - Building a Character 60
  • 5 - Finding the Story 86
  • 6 - Location 119
  • 7 - The Individual Voice 131
  • 8 - Second Draft 157
  • 9 - Performance Projects 193
  • Appendix A: 198
  • Appendix B: 200
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