Book Review: THE STUDENT GUIDE TO WRITING: PLAYWRITING, Jennifer Tuckett
Ten industry professionals have teamed up to create a step-by-step lesson plan for how to write a play for theatre. Edited by MA Dramatic Writing at Drama Centre course leader Jennifer Tuckett, The Student Guide to Writing: Playwriting is an accessible tool suitable for both new writers and seasoned professionals.
This book is the second in a series that aims, for the first time, to provide access to the leading dramatic writing training coming out of the industry. Drama Centre and Oberon Books have teamed up with the Bush Theatre, one of the UK's most successful new writing theatres.
The book is densely packed with lots of handy tips that I just had to try out for myself. It's been an interesting experience, one I've learnt a lot from as a theatre-maker.
I usually shun away from playwriting. I find it hard to sit down and type down dialogue, and instead prefer to devise within a room. But not every idea for a story can be created in this form. At times it has to be written. But where do you start? Fortunately this book provides some of the answers.
Accessibility to the arts is a hot discussion right now, however the conversation primarily revolves around getting people into acting. There are some initiatives for emerging playwrights, (the Royal Court's Young Writer's Programme being a fantastic example), but if you are from a lower-income background, not in London, where do you go?
The aim for this text is to make industry training more accessible. Practitioners such as Rob Drummer (former associate dramaturg at the Bush) and John Yorke (founder of BBC Writers Academy) have shared their expertise on what forms the building blocks of a good play.
What this book does do is provide a wide scope of accessible, easy-to-grasp tasks that allow a prospective writer to get started. Structure, scenes, characterisation, dialogue, theatricality, rewriting, and even the business of getting your work put on - it tackles everything.
Not all of the tasks will work for everyone, and that's fine. Of course, every writer has his or her own different approach, but I guarantee that this book contains at least one activity that you will find useful. If you're stuck on where to go, and need something to help you take the next step, chances are you'll find the answer within this book.
It's suitable for writers, students, teachers, academics, the industry - anyone really who has an interest in dramatic writing. It demystifies any preconceived fears. Of course, creating a successful play isn't easy, but with The Student Guide to Writing: Playwriting you'll be off to a good start.