TDM presents a Master Class with playwright Celine Song on Friday, March 1 at 10am. RSVP at the bottom.
What Kind of a World is Your Play?
In the room where my play is happening, for a period of time — decided by how many words I wrote down on the page for my actors to say — I am the person in charge of the audience's comfort and discomfort. For ninety minutes or three hours, my audience is locked into a room with my play, and I get to exercise a great deal of power over them. I can put them through traumas, bring up things they do not want to talk about, remind them of something they have long forgotten, give them something to dream about, ask them impossible questions. If I use my power well, I can even make them laugh and cry.
And with great power comes great responsibility. In this class, I want to talk about how to create the world of our plays with intention, philosophy, and ideology. I want to talk about the incredible power we as playwrights have over our audience, and how to wield it with intention.
As a playwright, when I write a play, I am writing a world into existence. It is a whole world with its own rules, physics, history, mores, population. It is a world that exists for the ninety minutes or three hours each evening -- a world that is created and destroyed over and over again until the run is over.
So what kind of a world do I want to invite my fellow human beings to? The world we live in is cruel. Is the world of my play cruel too? The world we live in is indifferent and amoral. Do I, as the fallible god of my plays, treat my characters with as much indifference and amorality? Children die without meaning in our world. But what about in the world of my play? Does my world punish evil? If so, to what end? If not, why not? Does my world believe in evil at all? Do I tell the truth about the world we live in, uncompromising and painful? Or do I create a beautiful sanctuary, a respite from all that?
ABOUT CELINE SONG:
CELINE SONG's play ENDLINGS will receive its world premiere in 2019 at American Repertory Theater. It was selected for the 2018 O'Neill National Playwrights Conference, and it was placed on the 2017 Kilroys list. Celine is a member of the Public Theater’s 2016-2017 Emerging Writers Group, Ars Nova’s 2014-2015 Play Group, and The Orchard Project's inaugural NYC Greenhouse 2018. She was a Playwrights Realm Writing Fellow from 2017-2018, and she was a 2017 semifinalist for the P73 Playwriting Fellowship. Her play TOM & ELIZA was a semifinalist for the American Playwriting Foundation's 2016 Relentless Award. Celine has been awarded residencies, fellowships, and commissions from MTC/Sloan, Sundance, the Millay Colony for the arts, the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and the Edward F. Albee Foundation. Celine was an IATI Theater 2015 Cimientos Playwright and a 2014 & 2016 Great Plains Theatre Conference Playlab Playwright. Her plays include THE FEAST (MAP Theater in Seattle, New Court Theatre in LA, Shelterbelt Theatre in Omaha, Red Theater Chicago), FAMILY (Signature Theater, Potomac Theater), TOM & ELIZA (Ars Nova, JACK, Theatre503), and ENDLINGS (The Public, Echo Theater, OSF Black Swan Lab). She holds an M.F.A. from Columbia. She is currently a staff writer on Amazon's The Wheel of Time, and developing a project for television with Diablo Cody and Beth Behrs.