Teaching Young Playwrights is a book for all teachers of writing, regardless of their theatrical experience. Gerald Chapman was the first artistic director of the Foundation of the Dramatists Guild New Playwrights Festival, having founded a similar festival at London's Royal Court Theatre. This book is the result of his work with those festivals and the workshops with children ages nine to eighteen he and his colleagues conducted in New York and elsewhere from 1981.
Informative and accessible, this book aims to get rid of many of the fears teachers and students feel when they are faced with the prospect of revealing themselves as completely as playwriting demands. While it offers an introduction to the elementary techniques of role-playing and improvisation, this is not a book on creative dramatics. The basics of creative drama in the classroom are designed to be used in the training of playwriting skills.
Playwriting involves several activities that Chapman groups under four headings: Reading, both aloud and silently; Talking, in discussion and in improvisation; Writing, individually and collaboratively; and Analyzing, as individuals and groups. These activities combined with the elements of dramatics can help students in a workshop situation work their way through the process of playwriting. by the processes of revision and rewriting, the students' work will evolve from drafts of improvisations to become final drafts that adhere to the conventions of drama and that realize the concepts of characterization and narrative structure.
To get students started, the first lesson begins with the Collaborative Writing Game; and all lessons include some writing, improvisation, and discussion. Through all of this Chapman discusses such facets of playwriting as dramatic action, point of view, characterization, the form of playwriting, topic choice, and evaluation and rewriting.