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New Playwriting Strategies: A Language-Based Approach to Playwriting (A Theatre Arts Book) Paperback – September 28, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0878301362 ISBN-10: 0878301364

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Product Details

  • Series: A Theatre Arts Book
  • Paperback: 186 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (September 28, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0878301364
  • ISBN-13: 978-0878301362
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #752,531 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Unique in its genre...goes far beyond [a] useful study...recommended enthusiastically... -- Choice
New Playwriting Strategies is a lively dramaturgical gesture that not only blows cobwebs off the existing contemporary notions of what constitutes a stageplay, but also chronicles the seismic shift in playwriting over the past two decades in the United States. This language-based approach to playwriting offers a rigorous collection of writing exercises that will challenge playwrights at a formative and advanced stage to discover new creative strategies and forms for theatrical expression. -- Mark Bly, Chair of the Playwriting Program, Yale School of Drama
The new school of playwriting needs a new poetics, and Paul Castagno provides it in New Playwriting Strategies, a text that is lucid, intelligent, and, above all, practical. He offers an insightful analysis of the work of today's most inventive dramatists, creates a critical vocabulary to illuminate their work, and provides clear and fun excercises. Truly an indespensable book--not just for playwrights, but directors, designers, and critics, as well. -- David Rush, author of Police Deaf Near Far and Head of Playwriting, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale
The new school of playwriting needs a new poetics, and Paul Castagno provides it in New Playwriting Strategies, a text that is lucid, intelligent, and, above all, practical. He offers an insightful analysis of the work of today's most inventive dramatists, creates a critical vocabulary to illuminate their work, and provides clear and fun excercises. Truly an indispensable book--not just for playwrights, but directors, designers, and critics, as well. -- David Rush, author of Police Deaf Near Far and Head of Playwriting, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale

About the Author

Paul C. Castagno is Professor of Theatre at UNC-Wilmington where he served as founding chair of the Department of Theatre. He formerly served as Director and Head of M.A. Programs of the School of Theater at Ohio University, and headed the MFA Playwriting/Dramaturgy Programs at University of Alabama. He teaches playwriting, dramatic literature and directs, and has published books and/or articles on playwriting and commedia dell’arte.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Cheney on November 19, 2002
Format: Paperback
I have completely mixed feelings about this book. Part of me wants to celebrate anyone who brings more attention to writers such as Mac Wellman, Len Jenkin, and Suzan-Lori Parks -- some of the most exciting playwrights in America -- but another part of me is deeply uncomfortable with the clunky, jargon-filled sentences and often obtuse ideas herein.
The best element of this book is the exercises sprinkled through each chapter. In fact, it's tempting to say: Get the book for the exercises, read nothing else. They won't make you a great playwright, but they will get you thinking about the possibilities of the theatre in ways that no other handbook will.
There are some good ideas within the text itself, too, but there are far more ideas which are either unnecessarily "academic" or so reductive as to be humorous. Castagno doesn't seem to understand that the theatre is a fundamentally pragmatic art form -- he ends up trying to explain far too many things which are self-evident if you don't view them through the distorting lens of postmodern literary and cultural theory. Why do Jenkin and Wellman, for instance, use various levels of language? Not because they're trying to prove a theory of Bakhtin's, but rather because it's fun. Anyone who has seen a good production of a Len Jenkin play knows that it is first and foremost a lot of fun. Castagno is like an analyzer of comedy who is more interested in trying to explain how jokes work than in simply enjoying that they do.
The fundamental premise of the book is, in many ways, false.
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Format: Paperback
Words that stop on a dime to shift the beat of an action, characters that transform at the turn of a phrase from the sublime to the grotesque, and nouns that seemingly have no connection to each other building to provide landscapes of character, thought, and actions. These are just a few of the exercises and ideas contained within this extremely useful book.
While the joy of writing maybe the first and foremost concern of the playwrights (Mac Wellman, Len Jenkin, etc.) that Castagno uses as models in the text, it is a joy arrived at through rigorous thought and discipline. And it is this rigor of intellect along with a strong sense of theatricality that informs this book. Because in an era where many new plays bear a greater resemblance to fleshed out sitcoms or television dramas, Castagno presents strategies that remind writers of the possibilities and opportunities that writing for the stage offers over evening television. Succinctly, Castagno's book reminds the playwright that words are the ultimate weapon of choice.
The book can easily serve not only a playwrighting text for both a beginning or more advanced class but also is a useful tool for an individual writer looking for ways to make his or her text breathe free of the constraints of the traditional well made play. From a first-hand standpoint, these techniques, along with the intellectual thought that informs them, provided the final step in my development as a playwright. Furthermore, I utilized the exercises for a workshop I taught at Tulane University this summer (in conjunction with a play I was having produced) and saw immediate results.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By David A. Crespy on April 3, 2002
Format: Paperback
For those who are interested in exploring the technique of the language playwrights, Len Jenkin, Mac Wellman, Constance Congdon, Suzan Lori-Parks, and Eric Overmeyer, Paul Castagno's book offers a hands-on, informative approach that is useful to working playwrights and to dramaturgs who work with new forms of playwriting.
Prof. Castagno bases his technique on important theoretical approaches (using the ideas of thinkers such as Mikhail Bahktin and Russion Formalists) that inform the work of these new playwrights. I am currently using this book in my graduate seminar in playwriting, and my students are using the language-based model that Castagno has developed to create some very interesting and exciting new plays.
One of the more interesting aspects of the book is Castagno's expertise in the field of commedia, which he brilliantly ties into the post-modern formalist technique of writers like Len Jenkin, who subvert archetypal characters and stage figures in their plays.
In a field that is dominated by cookie-cutter "how-to-write-your-play" texts, New Playwriting Strategies offers a refreshing, subversive, and exciting new approach to writing plays. For those who are interested in adding more dramaturgical tools to their dramatic technique, I highly recommend this text.
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