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Special Study: Scriptwriting

  • Module code: CW6006
  • Year: 2018/9
  • Level: Year 6
  • Credits: 30.00
  • Pre-requisites: Successful completion of level 5 Creative Writing requirements or equivalent
  • Co-requisites: None

Summary

This is a year-long optional module in the Creative Writing field. It allows an advanced, detailed, and extensive study of forms of dramatic writing (stage, screen, and radio) giving students a sophisticated understanding of its developments, codes and contexts, and allowing them to engage with this genre from the perspectives of both theory and their own writing practice.  Starting with the study the work of contemporary playwrights such as Martin Crimp, Lucy Kirkwood, Timberlake Wertenbaker and Caryl Churchill, we will examine how such writers who were produced by the main new writing houses (Royal Court Theatre, Soho Theatre and the Royal National Theatre) have responded to significant social events and phenomena through the genre of drama.  Our approach will be both theoretical and practical and we will use the techniques acquired from this study and apply them to an exploration of other dramatic forms such as film, television and radio.  Conceptual analysis is reinforced by practical work designed to enable students not only to understand the conventions of their chosen genre but also to apply them creatively to their own writing. The module may suit students wishing to devote extensive consideration to developing their expertise in writing for the stage, radio, film and television, and produce a sustained body of work within its conventions. This special study will be taught in small groups by members of staff who have extensive experience of writing drama across a range of forms.

Aims

This module aims to:

  • permit a detailed and extensive study of writing for performance, its conventions and its representative examples give guidance in investigating and trying out different scriptwriting techniques 
  • enable students to explore scriptwriting in relation to its historical and social contexts, and provide students with a sophisticated understanding of pertinent theoretical contexts and debates
  • provide students with an opportunity to develop a sustained piece of dramatic writing for performance

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module students will be able to:

  • present a detailed knowledge and understanding of the conventions and techniques of dramatic writing
  • analyse the ways in which dramatic texts relate to pertinent social, historical, intellectual, and/or theoretical contexts
  • demonstrate the ability to write a sustained piece of writing for performance
  • display an ability to work independently and to manage time efficiently

Curriculum content

  • Introduction:  The Playwright and Theatre in Society
  • Writing for the Stage - the Royal Court Theatre and the Contemporary Playwright
  • Drama and Politics - The plays of Caryl Churchill, John Arden, Sarah Daniels and Howard Brenton
  • Experiment and Social Change - Martin Crimp, Sarah Kane and Peter Handke
  • Storytelling in Space and Time - Bertolt Brecht's Galileo Galilei
  • The Well Made Play - The legacy of Henrik Ibsen and Bernard Shaw
  • Writing for Radio - the plays of Lucy Gough
  • From Big Screen to Small Screen - Writing screenplays for film and television
  • sustained discussion and analysis of texts in relationship to their historical, cultural and theoretical contexts
  • extensive consideration of the ways in which the chosen texts reveal characteristic themes, styles, and concerns of the defined genre
  • an opportunity to apply the knowledge of the genre and the insight into its conventions to individual writing projects

Teaching and learning strategy

This module will be taught in two-hour workshops. For each workshop, students will be expected to read a range of play texts both historical and contemporary and to complete writing exercises designed to develop their scriptwriting ability. Activities within the workshop will remain as flexible as possible to allow the module to adapt to student interests and questions as they develop from readings, discussions, peer reviews and practical writing within the genre. They will include formal analysis of texts, a variety of writing exercises and peer review of individual work within the genre. Each two hour teaching session will be both analytical and practical: it will include the discussion of a set text with regards to its form and its social, theoretical and historical context, and the practice of writing in the genre under scrutiny. Practical work may involve writing exercises, the presentation of drafts of individual projects, and peer-led feedback.

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive KIS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching Whole group workshops 26
Guided independent study 274
Total (number of credits x 10) 300

Assessment strategy

Assessment strategy for this module is designed to test students' knowledge and conceptual understanding of a specialised genre of writing for performance and their ability to apply this understanding to their own practice within it. Formative assessment is delivered through the fortnightly workshops, peer review, group tutorial process and individual feedback. Summative assessment is delivered through a Special Study Portfolio (100%) which includes: a creative writing project within the specified genre amounting to 6,000 words or up to 35 minutes of material written for performance on stage or for broadcast on radio, television or film (70%), a 2,000 word critical essay (20%); and a set of workshop-related tasks such as reading logs or writing exercises (10%)

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
present a detailed knowledge and understanding of dramatic writing and its conventions Assessed formatively through formative feedback, and peer-review sessions. Assessed summatively through the Special Study Portfolio (100%)
analyse the ways in which play texts and screenplays relate to pertinent social, historical, intellectual, and/or theoretical contexts Assessed formatively through formative feedback, and peer-review sessions. Assessed summatively through the Special Study Portfolio (100%)
demonstrate the ability to write a sustained piece of writing for performance within the specified genre Assessed formatively through formative feedback, and peer-review sessions. Assessed summatively through the Special Study Portfolio (100%)
display an ability to work independently and to manage time efficiently Assessed formatively through formative feedback, and peer-review sessions. Assessed summatively through the Special Study Portfolio (100%)

Breakdown of Major Categories of Assessment

Assessment Type Assessment Name Assessment Weighting
CWK Portfolio 100
Total (to equal 100%) 100%

Achieving a pass

It IS a requirement that the major category of assessment is passed in order to achieve an overall pass for the module

Bibliography core texts

Bertolt Brecht, Galileo Galilei

John Arden, Sergeant Musgrave's Dance

Caryl Churchill, Top Girls, A Number and The Skriker

Martin Crimp, In the Country

Peter Handke The Hour we knew Nothing of Each Other

Henrik Ibsen, A Doll's House

Sarah Kane, Crave and 4.48 Psychosis

Lucy Kirkwood NSFW

Debbie Tucker Green, Stoning Mary

Bibliography recommended reading

David Edgar, How Plays are Made

David Greig, Playwriting, a Practical Guide

Sheila Yaegar, The Sound of One Hand Clapping

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