The gap: Contemporary playwriting exercises


There are gaps; between prevalent teaching tools for playwriting (i.e. Aristotle) and current artistic trends (e.g. postmodernism); between intellectual property law as written (i.e. permission-oriented) and digital practice in reality (i.e. remix-heavy); between pre-web professors and their post-web students. This dissertation examines these gaps in order to lay a new foundation for playwriting exercises.

New playwriting tools are needed so that we can educate a new generation of playwrights. These new tools cannot be primarily based on Aristotle's two-thousand year old approach. Traditional storytelling tenets like causality and linearity have been inadequate at least since the emergence of postmodernism. Drawing on research into creativity, motivation, and professional writing, this dissertation modifies tenets of other art forms as a starting point for contemporary playwriting exercises.

The resulting document provides a comprehensive look at the inherent conflicts within these gaps and outlines a strategy to move forward: creating new exercises. Rationale and background is provided for the new exercises and they are tested in process by writers and in product by professional respondents. While the sample sizes were small, the new exercises do increase the presence and strength of contemporary tenets in a playwrights work.

The appendix includes all 20 new exercises and 25 ten-minute playscripts (20 of which are the result of one of the new exercises).



Postmodernism, Playwriting, Playwright, Exercises, Pedagogy