Playwrights’ workshop open to all experience levels
By Jenn Watt
Published Nov. 28, 2017
When you write for the stage, the dialogue needs to stand for itself. Unlike in prose or poetry, there is little room for describing the setting or outlining the emotions of the character. What the audience knows it must learn from what the actor says, through the script the playwright creates.
It’s a challenging craft, says director, playwright and sometimes actor Michael Clipperton, but one that can be deeply rewarding.
“The dialogue that you write will determine what the actor does. You don’t have to tell the actor to say this line angrily, your words will tell them to do that,” he said in an interview.
Clipperton will be teaching an upcoming series of workshops on playwriting, organized through local theatre group Rural Rogues. Six evening sessions scheduled weekly (with a one-week break) starting Jan. 9, will take writers through the process of creating a 10- to 15-minute scene featuring three to five characters.
Part of the process will include a read-through with fellow participants and then at the end, actors will perform some of the works.
“We’ll bring in some actors who will read the scripts aloud in front of an audience,” said Clipperton.
“The process gives the writers an opportunity to go from the very germ of an idea to hearing their words read by an actor. That can be pretty exciting. Also pretty terrifying. Believe me; I know.”
Clipperton teaches at Lakehead University’s Orillia campus, currently instructing on drama and dance to teacher candidates. He has worked in theatre for 30 years and is a relatively recent addition to the Highlands community. Last summer, he wrote an original play to mark Dysart’s 150th anniversary called Re-Generation.
The workshop series is affordable at $60, which comes to $10 per session. Participants must commit to attending all six and pay up front. The sessions will take place Tuesday evenings at the Haliburton Highlands Museum from 7 to 10 p.m.
Experienced playwrights and those who have never written for the stage are welcome. You don’t need a scene in mind, either.
“It’s a really wonderful way to pass January and February. It gets you out of the house,” said Clipperton.
For more information or to sign up, get in touch with Kate Butler, director of the Haliburton Highlands Museum, at 705-457-2760.