Palanca Award-winning playwright teaches crash course on writing plays for theatre

BusinessMirror interviews Dr. Joem Antonio
Dr. Joem Antonio, now a six-time Palanca Award winner and Best Playwright at last year's Short+Sweet Festival, was once a beginning playwright too. He hopes to help others get started through his crash course, "How to Write Plays for Theatre." Here's our interview with him on this topic.

What are the common difficulties that beginning playwrights encounter?
Many. Some begin at the story level: is this story suitable for a play, film, or print media? Many aspiring playwrights have a hard time discerning this.

Another difficulty is making their instructions clear; scriptwriting, after all, is “imperative literature” or the art of putting instructions on paper as guideline to a great performance.

Mainly, the struggle lies in coming up with material that is appropriate for the stage.

How different is theatre from other mediums of storytelling?
The difference between drama and short fiction is simply that imagination is sufficient for short fiction but drama is meant for performance. This leads to the another comparison between drama and film: drama is meant for live performance in a limited space. Also, it can be performed again and again by different actors, directors… by different theatre companies. For film writing, once the film is recorded and made, that’s it. The script is dead after filming.

What will you cover in your crash course?
I will cover what makes drama distinct from short fiction and film, even more than what I’ve said earlier in the previous question. I will review the participants on the basics of story structures, and I will cover the different instructions a playwright uses in writing the story. After that, I will discuss the different ways to optimize the unique qualities of theatre in telling a story. The aim is, of course, to find a story that is best told through theatre and not in any other medium.

Lastly, I will discuss the science behind the format necessary in writing a script.

What will participants of the crash course leave with?
I aim that they leave with a greater consciousness of how the theatre medium works and, hopefully, with some great ideas for whatever stories they want to tell onstage.


Ready to write your own plays? Head over to Storywriting School to register. Dr. Antonio also teaches other writing courses, which you'll find here: writing workshops and courses at Storywriting School.

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