David Mamet sat in on a poker game full of thieves and left with the inspiration for American Buffalo. Now, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer of Glengarry Glen Ross takes you through his process for turning life’s strangest moments into dramatic art. He’ll teach you the rules of drama, the nuances of dialogue, and the skills to develop your own voice and create your masterpiece.
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David outlines what he’ll cover in this class, and the best mindset you can have to learn how to write great drama.
Purpose of Drama
Trying to understand drama? Look no further than everyday life. David teaches you how to recognize drama at its best—when it seeks to simply entertain, not teach.
Purpose of Drama (Cont’d)
Learn how drama functions as a form of myth, the ways in which it enlightens the complexities of humanity, and how it provides us with an outlet for expressing the issues that preoccupy us.
As a dramatist, your job is to tell a story. David teaches you how to keep your story simple by using Aristotle’s Poetics as a guide. Learn how to keep your hero’s journey at the heart of your narrative.
Dramatic Rules (Cont’d)
Start at the beginning of your story and don’t stop until you reach the end. Throw away anything that isn’t plot. David teaches you what to cut from your script and how to master the rules of writing.
David teaches you how to harness your fantasies and life experiences for drama. Look for drama in places where you’d least expect it and discover the inspiration behind several of his plays.
David teaches you what character really is—action. Learn how to create objectives for your characters and avoid the erroneous techniques commonly taught.
Plot is paramount. Become familiar with the essential ingredients of a plot like the precipitating event and the second-act problem. Learn how to find the plot hiding behind your scenes.
Structuring the Plot
David shares with you the methods he uses to structure a plot and teaches you how to connect plot points.
Structuring the Plot (Cont’d)
Learn the ins and outs of the structure of a three-act play and how to achieve cohesion across acts.
Case Study: Structuring the Plot – American Buffalo
David discusses the history of American Buffalo and delves into its plot, teaching you the symbolism of the eponymous coin and how the narrative speaks to viewers on a deeply human level.
Case Study: Structuring the Plot – Glengarry Glen Ross
David shares the inspiration behind Glengarry Glen Ross and discusses the differences between drama and tragedy.
Learn how David developed his style for writing dialogue, famously known as “Mamet-speak,” and where to draw inspiration when trying to write great dialogue.
David talks about what informs and motivates dialogue, and how to achieve a musicality and rhythm in your character’s speech pattern.
Narration & Exposition
Writing drama is not the same as conveying information. A dramatist’s job is to entertain, not bore, the audience. Learn how to recognize unnecessary narration and exposition and how to let the audience help you cut it out.
Every scene must contain three things. Learn what those are and how to recognize and remove scenes that are unnecessary to your script.
David discusses how he begins writing, the environment in which he likes to write, how he deals with writer’s block, and how he looks to Hemmingway for inspiration on how to begin writing.
Writing Process (Cont’d)
David tells us that there isn’t a fairy dust that will fix your script and explains the simple difference between him and an artist who spends his or her days simply dreaming about becoming a writer.
Learn how David reveres his audiences, what they are looking for when they come to the theatre, and how to learn from them.
Lies & Truth
Your responsibility as a writer: don’t lie. David discusses how the audience comes to the theatre to hear the truth and how drama helps us search for the truth. He gives examples of conveying the truth from two of his most revered plays.
Lies & Truth (Cont’d)
David continues talking about the truth in two of his most controversial works: Oleanna and Race.
Learn from David, in the role of the theatre director, on how he views what makes a great actor and how to cast the right ones for your play.
David tells us what he believes great actors should and shouldn’t do.
Life of a Dramatist
The life of a dramatist is frought with uncertainity, but dedication and passion towards your craft can lead you beyond consciousness.
Life of a Dramatist (Cont’d)
David experiences the self-doubt common amongst writers. Learn how he overcomes it and the one thing you should avoid in order to forge a path towards becoming a writer.
David leaves you with parting words and an emotional story from one of his favorite science fiction novels.