TEACHING PLAYWRITING IN HIGH SCHOOLS

06-Photo 6

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STUDENT NUMBER ONE

ME: So what have you got?

STUDENT 1: Nothing.

ME: Who’s your main character?

STUDENT 1: I don’t know.

ME: What’s his name?

STUDENT 1: John. No…wait… (long pause) No, it’s John I guess.

ME: Where does he live?

STUDENT 1: I don’t know.

ME: What city?

STUDENT 1: I don’t know.

ME: When he wakes up in the morning, what’s the first thing John sees?

STUDENT 1: Nothing.

ME: Okay, so John is blind. Good start. Write that down.

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STUDENT NUMBER TWO

ME: What’s your play called?

STUDENT 2: “Pole Hoes.”

ME: What’s it about?

STUDENT 2: Pole hoes.

ME: You mean like, strippers?

STUDENT 2: Yeah.

ME: What happens to them?

STUDENT 2: They get abortions.

ME: Abortions, huh?

STUDENT 2: Cause one girl, she get raped.

ME: Ah. You wrote “rapped” here instead of “raped.”

STUDENT 2: I did?

ME: “Someone help me!” she says. “I’ve been rapped.”

STUDENT 2: I gotta change it?

ME: Yes. But you can wait until you type it.

STUDENT 2: I gotta type it?

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STUDENT NUMBER THREE

ME: So what are you writing about?

STUDENT 3: It’s about a boy, he’s fighting with his grandfather.

ME: Cool. What about?

STUDENT 3: Well his name is Axel and he’s supposed to save the world but he doesn’t want to.

ME: How is he supposed to save the world?

STUDENT 3: That’s his destiny. But he’s angry so he wants to destroy it instead of saving it.

ME: Why is he angry?

STUDENT 3: His mom died.

ME: So why are you writing about his fight with his grandfather?

STUDENT 3: Because I lost it.

ME: What do you mean?

STUDENT 3: I wrote it and it was great but I lost it when it fell out of my notebook so I need to rewrite it.

ME: What notebook.

STUDENT 3: This notebook. I’ve been writing this.

ME: Wait…every page is filled. How long have you been working on this?

STUDENT 3: About two years. And I wrote the scene with the grandfather but the pages fell out and I lost them. Man, that was a bad day.

ME: You’re writing a novel.

STUDENT 3: I guess. It’s just a story.

ME: Can I read it?

STUDENT 3: Yeah. I guess. I’m nervous.

ME: Why?

STUDENT 3: No one’s ever seen that before.

ME: You’ve never shown anyone this notebook?

STUDENT 3: Just my mom.

ME: So…what happens in this story?

STUDENT 3: Axel is supposed to save the world. That’s what all the prophecies say. But a Sage murdered his mom and his grandfather never told him. So now he told him so Axel gets angry and doesn’t want to save the world anymore. So he goes out to the woods to kind of think and be alone. He has to figure out what he wants to do.

ME: Has your mom read this?

STUDENT 3: Yeah. She says she loves how words just flow right out of my pencil.

ME: Have you made a copy of this notebook?

STUDENT 3: No.

ME: Okay. Well the first thing we’re going to do is go to the office and make copies of every page. I’ll keep the copies safe so if you ever lose the notebook, you can just as me, okay?

STUDENT 3: Okay.

ME: So is this what you want to do? Writing?

STUDENT 3: Yeah. I love it. I write all the time. I think about it all the time. Because Axel, you know, it’s like…he’s me. I’m writing about myself.

ME: That’s usually how it works. How old are you?

STUDENT 3: Sixteen.

ME: Do you want to be a writer?

STUDENT 3: I want to get really, really good at it. Because I know I can’t make any money off it unless I’m really, really good. And I hope I make some money but really that’s not why I do it. It’s not about the money. I write because I love it. And I just want to keep writing until it’s perfect. So people will read it. I want to be known.

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