Crescent Players host writing workshop for imaginative short stories


Haljit BasuljevicReporter

On Wednesday, Feb. 27, the Crescent Players hosted a workshop for writers to showcase their imaginative short stories and scripts against a creative, challenging experiment.

During the middle of the workshop, one could feel the ensuing silence as writers tried to jot down a fitting word that matches the mood and image of the story. Scores of students were churning at their tables, some at blistering speed and others contemplating as if it is a chess move.

“If you come to a mental block, repeat the word that you just wrote over and over again. Just keep writing,” said Molly Flanagan, an IDS major and junior.

For the experiment, writers were given a backdrop of showtime music and a circulating image of a painted moss-covered crag rock surrounded by water. Choices between writing a play, script and short story were given.

Flanagan said she was inspired by the experiment after attending various play-writing workshops and picking up some of the ideas she gained there.

“I kind of took it a step further by opening it up to like, playwrights and screenwriters because the workshop that we do, we just write stories,” said Flanagan.

Before writers had honed their pens, Flanagan identified to the audience that there were notable differences between screenwriting and playwriting, such as screenplays written with actors and designers visually in mind. Hence, there are “stricter formatting rules.”

“The formatting rules for screenplay has four main elements: a scene heading, action, character and dialogue,” said Flanagan.

She also said that an example of a format for screenwriters would be to begin with at least three pieces of information.

“Interior, blackbox, day. Or exterior, campus, quad, night,” said Flanagan, “Then you go immediately into action, say, ‘Jacob walks along the quad’ and then go to dialogue.”

Flanagan said that the exercise was intended for thinking visually about a story. And after three to five minutes of the first draft, the music and images switch. Now, the semblance of a house beat and the white-hot image of two musicians are given for everybody to see.

“The practice challenged me in a way where Molly didn’t give us any specific info about the prompt, she showed us. So it was challenging to me to understand exactly what I seeing in the pictures,” said Matthew Lopes, a theater major and junior, who said that the transition between music and image gave him clarity as to where his story was going.

Among the few stories that were presented, Lopes interpreted the lone rock as a frog approaching a storage unit containing a little boy and from there the story referenced everything from Zootopia to Cocoa to Madagascar.

Vittoria Cristante, theater major and junior, stated that this has been the first time they’ve done a screenwriting/playwriting workshop. She added that the semester will follow up with more workshops, including an improv workshop that will be showcased next week.

“I hope this can be part of a bigger playwright initiative because we don’t have professors here who can teach playwriting,” said Flanagan. “So to me, like as students, I feel like it would be good to start that. Our own playwriting program.”

 

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