03 May 2021
Posted by Tabby Hayward
This week, we were looking at script writing.
We began by all putting a random object into a chat (examples included a toothbrush, a COVID test, a book, a lamp and a pineapple). We then picked one from the chat - this would be what our two characters would be fighting over!
Next, we all wrote a kind of relationship into the chat (examples included siblings, neighbours, work colleagues, cousins, mum and son, etc). Again, we all picked one to be the relationship between our two characters.
Finally, we all wrote a random sentence into the chat - which would become the first line of our dialogue!
With all this ready, the young writers set to work, writing a dialogue between the two characters fighting over the object - they were challenged to write 20 lines of dialogue in total, with each character saying 10 lines.
After sharing several of the dialogues as they were, we then looked at the playwright Stef Smith's writing exercise on the Royal Court theatre's website. You can access it here: https://royalcourttheatre.com/playwriting/writing-exercises/stef-smiths-writing-exercise/ - and there's plenty more exercises from other great playwrights too.
Stef Smith's exercise is really interesting because it's all about silence - which isn't normally the first thing which comes to mind when you think of a play! Following her instructions, we experimented with different versions of our scripts, replacing different lines with silence, in three different drafts, and then discussed which we found most interesting/powerful/effective. There were lots of varied responses, from some preferring not changing anything to some finding that cutting down brought out whole new aspects of their characters and new tensions in the scenes.
Here is Charlotte's script (with a welcome return from Osborne and Edwards!)
Osbourne: For the last time, it was not the aliens. You have
the pineapple so give it to me.
Edwards: Why do you even need the pineapple?
Osbourne: It’s important to me.
Edwards: Why? Where are you from the 1500’s?!
Osbourne: Just give it to me.
Edwards: Or what?
Osbourne: I’ll scream.
Edwards: Yeah right. Try again.
Osbourne: I’ll break your favourite mug.
Edwards: Already broken.
Osbourne: Second favourite.
Edwards: No. I like the pineapple and I’m keeping it.
Osbourne: I’ll give you three seconds.
Edwards: Fine with me.
Osborne: One… two.. three
Edwards: Threaten me all you want. You’re not getting it
Osbourne: Okay then. I’ll take this then.
Edwards: Don’t you dare!
Osbourne: Then give me back MY pineapple.
Edwards: Fine but you’ve got to admit that alien lie was
Osbourne: Yes if I had never stepped on this planet before!
Edwards: Then technically you’d be the alien.
(Osbourne storms off)
Following this, in the last 10 mins of the session, some of the young writers also experimented with writing a short monologue from the point of view of one of their two characters, recounting the same scenes as the dialogue from their perspective.
Here is Neelesh's excellent and very relatable dialogue (with silences!) and monologue:
Ben: Oi give me the controller.
Harry: No why?
Ben: Just give it to me!
Harry: Your’e so annoying. Can you just wait 15 mins until I finish playing the game?[ Harry refuses]
Ben: Ahh. I’m done with you
Harry: Good for you then.
Ben: Fine have it in your way. I’m just gonna dismantle the videogame.
Ben: I don’t care I’m not waiting for you anymore.
Ben: Oi give me the controller
Ben: Just give it to me!
Harry: Nah not now.
Ben: I’m done with you.
Ben: You chose the wrong decision so now I’m not waiting for you anymore.
Ben talking about his brother.
My brother, Harry, plays about 5 hours of videogames and I only get 1 hour of it. It’s not fair because we are twins also he’s only 1 min older than me. Not going to lie, he annoys me as well. Now it's revenge.