Since my East West Players playwriting workshop was overbooked, we added a second section, which means my entire Saturday morning and afternoon are dedicated to teaching. But since I abandoned the concept of a "workweek" long ago and my weekdays and weekends blend into one amorphous jumble of time, it's all good. Even though both classes are full, there are still half a dozen people on the waiting list—which is either a testament to the reputation that EWP has built over the years or which serves as random information to stroke my ego (or both).
Aside from discussing my effort to re-frame how to give feedback; talking about the concept of "the emotional core," on which, I believe, all other elements of playwriting hang; doing a series of innovative writing exercises that I created, using music as a point of inspiration; and dipping into working with dialogue in an unconventional way, a couple students asked for a reading list. Stuff that goes on in class is private and costs you money (!), but I'll throw you a few crumbs from time to time. So, in an e-mail I sent after class:
A couple of you asked for a sort of "reading list." (This is not required.) If you're interested, I think it's important to read different types of plays—not just different in terms of subjects and themes, but also different in terms of style, structure, and sensibility. If your main interest is in narrative playwriting (typically a story with a beginning, middle, and end), which I think most of you are, here are a few I recommend (in no particular order):
Reckless by Craig Lucas
Durango by Julia Cho
Art by Yasmin Reza, translated by Christopher Hampton
Six Degrees of Separation by John Guare
Angels in America: Millennium Approaches by Tony Kushner
Stop Kiss by Diana Son
Red by Chay Yew
The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told by Paul Rudnick
As a side note, many people sign up for these workshops simply to get their creative juices flowing, but sometimes that effort yields great rewards, and I would be remiss if I didn't mention what's happening with a few projects my students developed in my workshop last year:
Aurelio Locsin's Helltown Buffet, a wildly imaginative comedy about demons, love, and Filipinos, has its world premiere at Rude Guerrilla Theatre Company in Santa Ana, California (the same theater that produced my adaptation of Scott Heim's Mysterious Skin a few years ago). Helltown Buffet runs September 19 to October 18, 2008. More information.
Paul Kikuchi's Ixnay, a very funny play about Asian Americans in the afterlife, will premiere at East West Players in Los Angeles, California (the first home of my Big Hunk o' Burnin' Love and The Theory of Everything). Ixnay runs February 12 to March 15, 2009. More information.
Tim Toyama's Yuri and Malcolm X, an eye-opening drama about Malcolm X's friendship with civil rights activist Yuri Kochiyama, recently won the Ruby Yoshino Schaar Playwright Award, which came with a dandy cash prize.
And I'm sure many more achievements are on the way. Keep me posted, people! I'm not as mean and heartless as my teacher persona suggests! (I think.)