“In my opinion, the power to change the world is with playwriting,” said the chair of the Theatre Arts Department Tammi Doyle, as she discussed the upcoming playwriting class for spring quarter 2015.
Described as “highly anticipated” by Doyle and many theater students, the class is a five-credit humanities course and will be held on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3:30 – 5:40 p.m.
The course instructor Elena Hartwell is an internationally produced and published novelist and playwright. She has taught in multiple institutions around Washington such as the Cornish College of the Arts, University of Washington and University of Puget Sound.
Hartwell graduated magna cum laude from the University of San Diego with a B.A. in mass media communications and theater arts. She has also received a doctorate in dramatic theory and criticism from the University of Georgia. She is most well known for her book, “Eddie Shoes Private Eye Mystery Series.”
“Playwriting will make you a stronger writer overall,” said Hartwell. As the course title suggests, the class will be focused on playwriting, teaching and honing the students’ writing ability. “It will open up the creative mind for people to understand the whole playwriting process,” Hartwell said.
Doyle said, “Elena’s so personable and easygoing. She has a long history as a teacher. She really believes in trying to get students to write a full play.”
Hartwell plans to complete several course objectives.
“I want people to come away understanding play structure, how to create characters with depth and how to make the story more interesting as they go,” said Hartwell.
Hartwell explained, “Through this class, I want students to really understand how a play is constructed and what makes it work.”
I hope this potentially gives students more respect for a playwright and understand the different challenges,” shared Hartwell.
The course will be a combination of reading different plays and learning the techniques required to create distinct characters and plots. Hartwell will also assign an end of the quarter ten-page play written by the students, which will be a culmination of all the material learned throughout the quarter.
“The goal with this class is to read the finished play,” shared Hartwell, “there will be public readings at the end of the quarter for the finished products.”
The class will not be focusing on one genre of plays. Students really have the opportunity to write in any style that they want to,” said Hartwell. “There’s a lot of freedom to playwriting.”
Some students like Charlie Schuster hope to learn about publishing a play and getting others to read her work.
“As fun as writing can be, the goal is always to get your stuff out there for other people to read,” explained Schuster, “so I think it’s really exciting to work with [Hartwell] who can get your stuff out there in the world.”
Furthermore, according to Hartwell, “I’m certainly going to encourage people, if they got a solid and polished piece, to submit it to places because you can get short plays produced.”
Although the course recommends students have taken English 101, students do not need any prerequisites or theater experience to partake in the class.
Hartwell explained, “I have had students who’ve never written a play before or even seen a play, but they have written phenomenal short plays. You don’t have to know theater or be a writer to participate in this class.”
However, Hartwell also advises, “do not think that watching movies and television will help you prepare for playwriting.”
According to Doyle the playwriting class is an introductory course.
“At some point, we’ll have a two-quarter series of playwriting,” Doyle said.
With this possible installment, students will be able to continue developing their work from the first playwriting class.
“I’m hoping it will attract theater students and writers of any ilk,” said Doyle.