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  • joepassarella8


When people find out that I'm a writer, they typically tend to cock their head to one side and lean in little closer, as if the words "I am a writer" has just stimulated something deep within. Upon the next question, "What is it that you write?" and the eventual answer - mostly plays - that "something" suddenly bursts into a creative explosion of ideas, that usually end with the same comment..."I have a story that I think would make a great play!"

Notwithstanding, having a story and turning said story into a "great" play, or any sort of play, for that matter, I would like to offer my own personal advice to all future playwrights wishing to set a stage on fire. If you want to learn how to write a play, begin by reading Charles Dickens. Shakespeare won't help you. Neither will Tennessee Williams or Eugene O'Neill. Ibsen, Ionesco, Albee...also not going to help. But Charles Dickens - he's the one who's going to teach you everything you will need to know in order to write a play.

So - what sets Charles Dickens apart from everyone else and allows him to be a master teacher? In a word...VISION. When I use this term here, I am not referring to the ability to see something in a way that no other person yet sees. I am also not referring to being a master story-teller with a sharp and focused world point of view. No. I am not referring to any of these qualities, although having them, in any stage of development, would be a considerable feather in one's proverbial cap. What I mean when I say that Charles Dickens can teach someone how to write a play because of his vision, I mean that quite literally.

The detail in which Charles Dickens wrote - whether in describing a scene, a character, an emotion, a viewpoint - is so sharply constructed and crafted, that all one has to do is to close one's eyes and allow the images to jump to life. His characters are larger than life (Fagin, Scrooge, Oliver Twist). His stories are relatable. His themes universal. And they all have one more thing in common...detail. The details are described and connected in such a way as to allow a perfect picture to be painted inside our minds eye. We see what Dickens means because he writes it that way. And that is due to his vision.

It is no coincidence that I chose his classic novella, A CHRISTMAS CAROL, to adapt into a performance-defining stage play. It is true there many other playwrights, novelists, writers, essayists that can teach one the fine art of Playwrighting. The literary giants I stated above most certainly will. But, it is my humble opinion, that when first starting out, I think a person will get a better understanding of themselves and their craft if they first sit down and read through the works of Charles Dickens.

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