A number of students virtually traversed the country to attend Edinburgh's Traverse Theatre’s recent online festival, enjoying two workshops from leading playwrights who set out their approaches to the craft.
'Generating Material' with playwright Simon Stephens focused on communicating thematic contradictions like hope and fear or joy and despair to an audience. Ella Hickson's workshop, 'From Theme to Scene', sparked our imaginations by positing that, as playwrights, we shouldn’t offer the audience a moral message but rather ask ourselves, what is the question we are trying to answer?
Harshana Nanthagumar enjoyed both workshops. She described the Simon Stephens workshop as a "really laid-back and funny talk that was interesting to listen to. He made me understand how much you need to find out about the character you are writing about in order to give them more dimensions, e.g. what the character knows about themselves that others don’t and what others know about them that the character doesn’t". From the Ella Hickson, meanwhile, Harshana came away thinking about "how important conflict is between two characters. How does the dilemma or conflict manifest itself when they are put in the same room?"
Y12 Kayla particularly enjoyed the Simon Stephens session, noting not only his playwriting advice, but also his musings on life in general, such as "the existential atrocity of being alive."