5 Things: Playwriting Tips from Marsha Norman

photo from broadwayworld.com

Marsha Norman’s TCG playwriting workshop, “Secrets of the Great Play,” was attended by nearly 100 participants this afternoon, including eminent playwrights Philip Kan Gotanda and Deborah Laufer. Here’s Norman (night, Mother) on:

Story: “The audience only cares about stories that ask questions they are wondering about right now. You don’t ask directions to a place you don’t want to go. And the questions are always: How do we get through? What are our struggles as human beings on the earth?”

The cooked and the raw: “A great play has both something you understand deeply and something you find shocking and perverse.”

Home: “Home is where you are able to speak, where you have a voice.”

Dramatic conflict: “We can’t be without the battle. That’s the hard-wiring. Humans are heart-filled beings who want to go out and do battle to protect their families. That’s why video games are so popular — they let us relive the experience of being engaged in the battle on our own behalf.”

Why Romeo & Juliet should really be called just Juliet: “The main character is the one with the most to lose. Romeo & Juliet is really about Juliet. Face it—Romeo was going to die anyway. But Juliet could’ve married a nice man and been happy.”

More tomorrow on my post-workshop interview with Norman on women in theater and the Lilly Awards.