The Playwright’s Workbook

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A practical manual to help you craft a better play.

From the moment the playwright conceives the germ of a plot, he or she begins a juggling act. Plot, characters, physical setting, time sequences–all these are there to be juggled with. A play consists of many scenes, few of them revealed to the audience by actual breaks, black-outs or curtain falls, but present nevertheless in the text as the characters come and go, interact, meet crises and cope with them. All these have to be juggled into place, with the playwright conscious of the limitations of the physical stage, to say nothing of the cost of extra sets, additional costumes, and supernumerary actors.

This Workbook does not aim to replace the playwright’s creativity. That remains a “given”, something sacred which creates the magic of theatre. But it does aim to make the juggling easier and more effective, and the play more successful.

Originally Published in 1993.


John Dunmore


Out of Print




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