The Student Guide to Writing: Playwriting
Edited by Jennifer Tuckett
Contributers: Rob Drummer, Ola Animashawun, John Yorke, Tom Holloway, Fin Kennedy, Steve Winter, Caroline Jester, Caroline Horton, Lucy Kerbel
The Student Guide to Playwriting belongs to a series of texts that provide simple step by step lesson plans to support writers to develop the necessary skills to write in a particular genre or style, in this case playwriting. Ten lessons have been contributed along with worked examples by some of the industries leading theatre professionals.
The lesson plans in this book are clearly structured, easy to follow and include exercises so that you are able to develop your skills in the named area. This book covers everything from getting started, structuring and character development through to dialogue, theatricality and redrafting. There is also advice on the business aspects of being a playwright, a topic which often goes uncovered. The back of this book includes samples of the winning work by students who entered the Student Guide to Writing Playwriting Competition.
This book is a useful and important read for any aspiring playwright. This isn’t just because it gives you a step by step guide to actually writing a play but it also gives you a good idea of the areas and topics you may cover if you partake in a playwriting programme. Having this knowledge will also likely assist in your application. We all know it can be difficult to get onto writing programmes and part of that difficulty lies in being unsure about what is expected in an application to successfully gain a place on the scheme. This book offers a selection of inside industry tips to support you in the early stages of your career as a playwright.
Overall, I feel that this book is an excellent asset to any writers bookshelf. My only disappointment is the lack of diversity among the contributors to this book. Whilst there is a fairly even split of male and female contributors (which given the current state of theatre is a positive step), there is only one BAME contributor. I suppose this is a reflection of the current state of the theatre industry but more needs to be done to actively challenge this. I am growing tired of picking of books, attending talks, watching performances and seeing such little representation of people of colour, but particularly women of colour. I hope that in future books within this series, there will be a greater focus on providing diverse perspectives and including more contributors from diverse backgrounds.
Verdict: An important, easy to access and useful read.