Led by Director, Dramaturg and Playwright Alice Coghlan and inspired by her twelve years as an Abbey Theatre Literary Reader, this new Book Club meets a primary need for emerging artists – to hone and expand your understanding of your craft by studying important plays in the company of your peers.

Course Outline

Playwrighting is a craft, a craft that be understood as a sum of its parts. That is why a playwright is a wright, a craftsperson, one who has learned to build or to craft for the stage through language and words. Over the course of six plays over six weeks, via Zoom, we will learn how and why the earlier playwrights wrote the great plays that they did, and explore how we can apply our understanding of their craft to our own ‘wrighting’ today?

Each Club starts with a Play Appreciation by Wonderland’s Artistic Director Alice Coghlan, with a focus on this play’s historical context, its writing, its form and its stage craft. This Appreciation is followed by a lively analysis of key scenes of the play, illustrated by online recordings or readings. We might for instance discuss why this week’s playwright wrote this story, in this form, at this moment in time? Who commissioned them? What were the theatrical buildings or ceremonial settings they wrote for? What theatrical resources did they have or not have? How did they tell their tale through music, sound, light and narrative design? Who were they writing for? Who were their players? Who were their audiences? Who were their collaborators? Why and how did they innovate? How did they martial narrative, structure, character, theatricality, genre, language and design to such a glorious end? And most importantly just what can this playwright teach a writer ‘wrighting’ today? As our Club is very practical in intention, each meeting will culminate in an optional ‘screen sharing’ of your creative responses to the previous Club’s playwright. For instance you might start to write a short break out scene from the play, much as an emerging artist might copy an old Master in a Gallery or an actor might improvise around a text in rehearsals to deepen their understanding of it. Or a designer might choose to share sketches or visuals with the Book Club, a composer music, an actor a monologue, a dancer some choreography, a director a director’s vision, a producer a project proposal and so on. You will then benefit from feedback from your peer and professional feedback.

The final part of the Club will be for fun and free questions and conversation about the play, the playwright and what she or he has inspired in our own work for today. May we share many ephiphanies together! After the Club is over members are welcome to stay online to chat some more over virtual ‘pints.’

Bookclub Outcomes

The emerging artist will be equipped with new and exciting tools and techniques from theatre history to apply to their understanding of playwrighting and theatricality. They will have more confidence to realise the ambition of the stories they can tell – for instance how you can ‘wright’ and stage drama. Best of all they will have six new creative responses to the work of other artists which they can develop into new projects and will be inspired to start playwrighting!

Reading List for the First Cycle

The first pilot six week Book Club Cycle will be a survey course from Ancient Greece to Modern Times.

This cycle’s theme will focus on the theme of Life and Death at six key moments in theatre history.

  1. Ancient Greece Orestia by Aeschylus
  2. Medieval Plays Everyman and other Mystery Cycle short plays
  3. Elizabethan Antony and Cleopatra by Shakespeare
  4. Nineteenth Century Germany/Holy Roman Empire Faust by Goethe
  5. Late Twentieth Century England Amadeus by Peter Shaffer Both Play and multi Oscar winning movie.
  6. Contemporary Ireland Woman and Scarecrow by Marina Carr

It is hoped that future Book Clubs might have cycles focusing on specific countries, writers or time periods, in line with how the group’s interests progress. Also being a theatre maker’s Bookclub in time we might also include classic acting and directings handbooks by Stanislavsky, Brecht, Peter Brook, Cicley Berry et al.

It is a great advantage of Zoom that as well as having Irish writers as members our Bookclub will also have writers from as far away as California and Oregon taking part. Thus interntational writers are very welcome to enroll.

The Bookclub is aimed at emerging and established writers and theatre and film makers.

To enroll and for more information please email alice@wonderlandtheatre.com