Calling all playwrights

Sep 29, 2011, 10:37 IST | Prachi Sibal

...And those with a love for words as playwright Gautam Raja teaches you the tricks of the trade in an intensive three-day workshop

...And those with a love for words as playwright Gautam Raja teaches you the tricks of the trade in an intensive three-day workshop

This weekend, head out to a workshop called 'Logorrhea that will give your love for writing shape and form.

Participants at a playwriting workshop at Jagriti

Gautam Raja, Los Angeles-based playwright and theatre personality, who has to his credit the collection of  plays like Damini The Damager and Othe Plays and The Invisible River, will be in town for a workshop that emphasises on the written word and the need for playwrights.
He spoke to The Guide about the nitty gritties of this workshop and more in an email interview.

Who is this workshop meant for and what does it entail?
The workshop is meant for anyone who likes words and writing. A love for theatre or film is welcome, but certainly not necessary. There will be lots of fun writing and thinking exercises to develop dialogue writing skills, as well the ability to create convincing characters. We will even head outside to eavesdrop and bring back some "wild" dialogues to work on. Writers are encouraged to bring plays they are working on, if any.

Why the name 'Logorrhoea?
The workshop is actually called Dialogorrhea. (As you can see, a love for dubious wordplay is also welcome.) Logorrhea is a condition that results in incoherent talkativeness, and if you were, say, at a party and transcribing all the conversations, you'd be startled to see how fractured and illogical our dialogue actually is. The workshop focuses on writing believable and engaging dialogue. Structure is important, certainly, but I believe that being able to write good
dialogue is much more elusive and subtle a skill.

Can play writing be taught? How important is it for a playwright to be trained?
It definitely can be. I got started with playwriting at a workshop conducted by playwright Mahesh Dattani in 1994. I still apply skills I learned there. Also, being able to interact with other writers is incredibly helpful. Some of the most productive workshops I've attended are ones with lots of interaction with other participants.
I think training can be  important, but it really depends on the person. Some people are adept at absorbing the skills necessary (in any field) simply by watching others and doing tasks themselves. I'm someone who benefits greatly from guidance--sometimes just having that little platform is all that's needed.

What will a participant who attends your workshop be able to do after the sessions?
As I suggested earlier, dialogue writing is (in my belief) the "black art" of writing plays. If participants go away with an improved ear for reproducing the incredible range of rhythms in the conversations around us, and use these rhythms to convey character and story with a light touch, I'd consider the workshop a huge success.

What will the three sessions involve? Is there a prerequisite for participants?
The workshop will involve quite a bit of writing, so that love for writing is definitely a prerequisite. Apart from the exercises, the last session will be with actors, so the writer's words will get wings, probably one of the most terrifying yet illuminating experiences for a playwright. Hearing your words come back at you through a good actor can be exhilarating if the writing is working, and will make you want to vomit if it isn't. Either way, you know for sure. I believe this session alone will be worth the admission fees.

How effective do you think short term workshops are?
Short workshops are characterised by intense concentration and energy, and an incredible amount of work gets done. And as I mentioned, for many people, the slightest nudge, the smallest platform and the tiniest support group is all that's needed to suddenly discover a new talent. It'll be a dense, intense three days, but I think we will cover a lot of ground.

Gautam Raja

How important are playwrights for theatre in the city? Do you think local playwrights have a platform in town or are there a lot of borrowed/ adapted scripts being used still?
We need more playwrights. Talk to nearly any director here and they'll speak of a yearning for more quality work that's contemporary and peopled with characters who may well be in the audience. We don't see ourselves up on stage enough, and it's important to be able to do so. Look at the surge of support for nearly any book, film or play that features PLU (people like us), even if we say in the very second sentence, "It could have been better." There are so many more places where playwrights can be heard, but I think opportunities for a writer to submit a work and have it done by other people are still limited.

Where Jagriti Theatre, Varthur Road, Whitefield
On September 30 to October 2, 10 am to 5 pm
Call 9880143573
For Rs 3,000

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