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Do It Yourself Dramaturgy

Do It Yourself Dramaturgy


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Praise for Do It Yourself Dramaturgy

The secret of life may be found in the questions you ask, and the same goes for the secrets of playwriting. In Do It Yourself Dramaturgy, Caroline Russell-King asks just the right questions or, rather, she exhorts playwrights to ask them before launching their work into the world. Comprehensive and concise, this eminently usable guide offers lesson after lesson in dramaturgical inquiry—craft-based, artistic, practical, professional, and even profound. It comes packing answers, too, from a writer who clearly knows her stuff, including how to entertain as she teaches. Russell-King’s cheeky, smart examples are worth the price of admission. Her parentheticals—where she stows personal stories and biases—are priceless.

Todd London
Artistic Director, Writer, Theatre Historian, Journalist
Dramatist Guild of America
New York. N.Y. U.S.A.

I wish someone had written this book when I was starting out. There was Bob White and the Playwrights’ Workshop of Montreal, but no details, no advice, and no methodology… . WOW! This is a masterwork and so well designed. There was no single textbook that I could assign when I taught playwrighting at Concordia. This would have made teaching so much better. I believe this is a terrific aid to anyone’s career. It clarifies absolutely everything. Caroline, you have achieved the impossible and done it with such grace and aplomb. You are a genius at these books, and I loved reading it.

Anna Fuerstenburg
Playwright, Director.
Montreal, Quebec, Canada

How great... . Well done... . This is amazing and soooo useful... . Caroline has done the impossible. She has taken all of her professional experience and wisdom and distilled it into this one awesome easy-to-use guide. It is complete, honest and immensely valuable for every playwright, Director and anyone who by accident finds themselves in the position of "Dramaturg." Dramaturgs are the unicorns of theatre. When you find a real one it's a miracle. Too often playwrights has to wear the magical horn themselves. Until now... . Caroline has taken all her professional experience and wisdom and distilled them into this easy-to-use guide.

I wish I'd had this book years ago as I worked with new commissions at Vertigo Theatre in Calgary. This book needs to be in the hands of every Artistic Director and playwright as well as used in every playwriting program on the planet.

John Paul Fischbach
Founding Artistic Director
Vertigo Theatre, Calgary
CEO & Chief Alchemist
Auspicious Arts Incubator
Victoria, Australia

What a terrific resource for playwrights: sound advice and provocative questions peppered with relevant (and entertaining) anecdotes.

Conni Massing
Playwright, screenwriter, story consultant
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Full of really valuable advice and questions to ask yourself. Read it then WRITE.

George F. Walker
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Caroline Russell-King's Do It Yourself Dramaturgy guides you like a lighthouse beacon through the frequent fog of the creative process of writing, or more likely, rewriting a stage play. Phrased as a series of practical questions the playwright might ask of their work before revising and submitting it to a potential producer, this concise, practical and lively guide renders complex concepts accessible and useful to a playwright at any level of experience, or for that matter anyone engaged in the creation of that fundamental conveyor of human experience: story.

Gerry Potter
Writer director dramaturg
Founder Workshop West Playwrights’ Theatre

Russell-King knows what she’s talking about. And she knows how to tell it with frankness, humour and clarity.

Bill Lane
Producer, Director
Stratford, Ontario, Canada

You encouraged me to care for the details and quality of my work. You asked the questions which required me to tell the truth. You challenged me to listen and value the voices of my characters, to dig deeper and expand my creativity. Most importantly, you believed in me and that was your most powerful tool. Congratulations on your book!

Gina Keys
Playwright, Producer
Gina Keys Productions
New York, N.Y., U.S.A.


Table of Contents

Introduction by Bob White

  1. Beginnings
  2. Genre
  3. Plot
  4. Characters
  5. Dialogue, Monologue, SOLILOQUY
  6. Setting
  7. THEME
  8. CHOPS, the apgar score of a new script
  9. PREMISE, a Useful exercise
  10. The Workshop
  11. Ancillary
  12. Checklist – professional playwright


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