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Writing the Fight: What Playwrights' Need to Know About Staged Violence

A Workshop for Playwrights on the Theory and Practice of Theatrical Violence

Monday, March 14th from 7PM - 9PM
Boston Playwrights' Theatre 949 Commonwealth Ave. (Back Theatre)
Price $15 for members, $25 for non-members

Refund Policy: No refunds after 12:00 PM, March 11, 2011.

This workshop will examine violence as a manifestation of character conflict and plot device, as practical aspects of putting violence on the stage in production and rehearsal.  The focus will be on what the playwright needs to know in order to have specific choices made by their characters in relation to physical violence, and to write fight scenes that would allow competent fight directors to design safe and exciting combat.

Violence will be examined as a choice that characters make or are forced to make. The craft of setting up dramatic conflict in which words fail and physical confrontation becomes necessary for a scene will be examined.    Power dynamics between characters will be discussed as they relate to violence, potential violence, past violence, and consequences of violence.  

Well known texts that have well crafted fight scenes in them will be examined, both the scenes in which the physical confrontations take place and scenes that contain exposition concerning how characters may interact during a physical confrontation; for example, Mercutio’s speech to Benvolio about Tybalt in Romeo & Juliet or Larry teasing Burton about being an Aikido instructor in Burn This.

The dramatic effectiveness of stage combat will be explored.  The idea of knowing when and if to write in a fight will be explored.  Certain words punctuated with slaps become more powerful.  Other times writing in a fight will weaken a play.

On a pragmatic level, weapons, props, and common training will be explored.  The difference between writing in a knife as opposed to a broken bottle may shave hundreds of dollars off of a production budget, as will making a gunshot happen offstage rather than on.  Additionally,  knowing what to expect from standardized actor combatant training might allow for a playwright to develop characters with skill sets they may not have even known were possible.

Finally, the workshop will cover violence as it exists and is perceived in modern society, including Asian martial arts, firearms, and gender issues.     

This workshop has been previously presented at Region I KC/ACTF, ATHE, the Last Frontier Theatre Conference, and Yellow Taxi Productions.

About the instructor:


MERON LANGSNER was one of three writers in the country selected for the pilot year of the National New Play Network Emerging Playwright Residencies, fulfilling his residency at New Rep, where he co-curated Their Voices Will Be Heard.  His plays have been performed around the country and overseas, and developed at the Lark New Play Development Center, New Rep, KC/ACTF, and the Last Frontier Theatre Conference (where he later returned as a featured artist).  Publishers of his plays include Smith & Kraus, Applause, YouthPLAYS, JAC, NorthNorthwest, and Lamia Ink.  Meron has composed violence locally at venues that include Merrimack Repertory Theatre, New Rep, Lyric Stage, Company One, Zeitgeist Stage, Whistler in the Dark, and numerous academic venues, and in New York City at Ensemble Studio Theatre.  Meron has taught stage combat courses at Tufts University, Boston University, and New York Film Academy, as well as numerous workshops.   He has authored academic articles on the performance of violence in Text & Presentation(McFarland), The Fight Master (SAFD), and the Electronic Journals of Martial Arts and Sciences.  Meron holds an MA in Performance Studies from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and an MFA in Playwriting from Brandeis and his currently a doctoral candidate at Tufts University, where he was the recipient of an award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education.  Additionally, Meron is a self defense instructor for IMPACT Boston, a non-profit violence and abuse prevention organization

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