Friday, March 24, 2006

Let's workshop

Yesterday was week 7 in trimester 2 of year 1 of my part-time MA Screenwriting course. Much of the morning was consumed by the Student Staff Liaison Committee meeting, followed by a brief session on our interactive entertainment projects. Alas, having more than 20 people in an overheated glass box is not conducive to great work. I was struggling to hear what the person next to me was saying and found myself staring at everybody's lips, trying to pick up as many communication signals as possible.

The afternoon was much more satisfying. While the fulltime screenwriting students joined the producers for a session with guest speaker Andrea Calderwood, the part-timers were workshopping our ten-minute script projects. We took turns to read aloud our outlines, before the other students got a chance to ask questions and offer suggestions. This is exactly the kind of peer review and idea brainstorming that I like, the chance to contemplate alternatives and throw fresh light on a project.

One of the most interesting suggestions was to take one project, a story in two halves, and reverse the order in which the halves appear. The events themselves would not be altered, but simply by changing the sequence in which they appear, the emotional outcome for the audience is completely reversed. I don't know if the writer whose project it is will follow that suggestion, but it was an inspired notion and something I doubt would have occurred to anyone outside the workshop environment.

No comments: