Writing for Performance/Designing Creative Inquiry

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Course DatesMeeting TimesStatusInstructor(s)CRNRegistration
July 08, 2019 - July 19, 20197/08 - 7/19M-F 12:15P-3:05POpenKyla Searle

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Course Description

Humans not only communicate through stories, we build our lives around them. We inherit stories, invent them through both necessity and imagination; we justify wars based on stories, we create borders based on stories, we make stories out of love and family and fear and longing and joy. The ability to focus on a story, to follow a line of curiosity, or inquiry, has powerful implications for discovery and for how we shape the future of our world. Constructing a rigorous creative practice is one of the most exciting and important things we can do. This course will provide a workshop setting in which students who are interested in storytelling, in writing, in play (playwriting, play-making), in the big ideas that shape our lives, will focus on the development of a single performance text.

Starting with renowned playwright Adrienne Kennedy’s People Who Led to My Plays, students will begin to create an archive of creative inspiration and curiosity from which to begin to develop their writing. Students will then be led through a process of “data collection”, conducting interviews, facilitated observation of the built environment, and image research from five different sources (ex. RISD Nature Lab, Brown Library, their personal Facebook/Instagram, family photos, City Landmarks). This data will be used to chart and inform an investigation of a core question or theme using writing as a mode of inquiry. Throughout this process we will engage the work and creative practices of artists include Anna Deavere Smith (text: Talk to Me; script: House Arrest), Marc Bamuthi Joseph (red, black and green: a blues), Daniel Alexander Jones (performance cycle: The Book of Daniel), Eiko Otake (site specific performance), Suzan Lori Parks (essay: Elements of Style), Virginia Grise (script: blu), and Christopher Chen (script: Caught). Students will simultaneously engage in the process of making work and documenting process. The course is grounded in embodied storytelling and applied dramaturgy (a form of theater research) as students work towards a final text.

Writing for performance is different from other forms of creative writing in that is requires the author to consider the sound, performers, space and audience who will amplify and engage with the text. Although this is not a production course (written work will not be performed), the consideration of these other elements will expand the possibilities for inquiry, engagement and discovery.

The instructor is a professional dramaturg and writer whose practice developing new work out of found material will locate the class in both the practical and imaginative possibilities of writing for performance. In addition to professional work in theater, the instructor holds degrees in Interdisciplinary Research, Urban Studies and Public Health. This experience well prepares her for tailoring the course to student interests and offering a specific but universally applicable set of tools. Understanding creative process and personal inquiry style is of critical importance to creating original scholarship; this course will prepare students for inquiry in a variety of disciplines.

Students will be able to identify their own creative inspirations, design an investigation around a specific subject area, write/communicate this investigation through writing, understand the unique possibilities within writing for performance. Students will become familiar with a range of approaches to writing for performance (ex. scripts, notated texts, etc).

Prerequisites: NA


Course Information

  • Course Code: CETA0925
  • Length: 2 weeks

Program Information


Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2019.

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