On Thursday, July 30, playwright and TV writer Christina Ham led us through 2-person scene writing at Anthropology of Character: A Scriptwriting Salon! This salon explored setting and how it can help shape your story, characters, and theme as you look to write or rewrite your play or script. Setting can be a valuable asset to your story and not just a place where your characters dwell.
Where your character comes from can help inspire the stories you want to tell. In this salon, we explore how the specificity of place informs character and story. Where we live shapes who we are. Different regions of the country have varied dialects, belief systems, and axioms. This trend is equally pronounced within different countries, socio-economic statuses, time periods, and uprisings. In plays, this is no exception. Dramatists such as August Wilson, Lorraine Hansberry, Anton Chekov, Sarah Kane, Tennessee Williams, and Shakespeare made the deliberate choice to set their classic dramas in Pittsburgh, Chicago, Russia, Northern England, New Orleans, and Denmark respectively to tell their powerful dramas. The same can be said for such television shows as The Wire, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Ramy, and I May Destroy You. But setting can be more than the environment in which your story is set, it can also be a reflection of your characters.
Write a two-person scene about an argument that seems to be about one thing but is actually about another.
Write a two-person scene that starts with a life-changing event.
Write a two-person opening scene about an average day turned upside down by an unexpected visitor.
Christina’s Recommended Craft Books
- Into the Woods: A Five-Act Journey Into Story by John Yorke
- The Playwright’s Process by Buzz McLaughlin
- STORY MAPS: TV Drama: The Structure of the One-Hour Television Pilot by Daniel Calvisi
Christina Ham was named one of “The Top 20 Most-Produced Playwrights of the 2018-19 Season” by American Theatre magazine. Her plays have been produced both nationally and internationally at the Kennedy Center, Arena Stage, Seattle Rep, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Tokyo International Arts Festival, and The Market Theatre in South Africa to name a few. A graduate of the University of Southern California, with an MFA in Playwriting from The UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television, she was most recently a writer/producer on Netflix’s Sweet Tooth with Will Forte.
Our Summer Salons—now open to the public—are a space for our community to learn from and write with incredible authors, poets, journalists, and novelists. The Girls Write Now Summer Salon Series is an extension of our Writing Works Program. Registration is required in advance for all Girls Write Now: Summer Edition events.