Dramatists Workshop Helps Fire the Playwright in Everyone
Valeo, Tom, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Tom Valeo Daily Herald Theater Critic
Every healthy adult seems to harbor the urge to write a play.
Now the Chicago Dramatists Workshop is helping those adults act on that urge by sponsoring five playwriting workshops for beginners.
"We focus on the basic skills - developing characters and writing dialogue with natural rhythms," said Kathleen Thompson who, with Michael Nowak, teaches a seven-week course titled "Playwriting for Rank Beginners." (The course begins at 10 a.m. tomorrow at the CDW, 1105 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago.)
In pursuit of that goal, they ask their students to develop the habit of really listening to the way people talk.
"We even take them on a field trip to Union Station and have them eavesdrop on conversations, and write down the most interesting things they hear," said Nowak.
The technique really works, they claim.
"We had one student who had to miss a class because he had to go down South to a funeral," Thompson recalled. "When he came back he said, 'everyone at that funeral was speaking dialogue.' The course really sharpens their ear for natural speech."
Dan Conway, who teaches "Playwriting Fundamentals" (beginning at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 27 at the CDW), takes a slightly different approach - he focuses on the essentials of storytelling.
"I have the students write a story from their own lives, and by the end of the course they have a producible 10-minute play based on that story," said Conway, a playwright who just sold a screenplay about a female Chicago cop investigating her ex-husband. …