Verse Drama After Shakespeare: Writing Poetic Plays Today

Verse Drama After Shakespeare: Writing Poetic Plays Today

Calling poets, playwrights, and Shakespeare-lovers! Join us for an exciting exploration of verse drama and learn how to use these techniques in your own poetic and theatrical writing.

In a 2005 interview, poet and verse playwright Glyn Maxwell commented: “People who don’t think verse can survive on the stage now are saying Shakespeare can’t survive now”. Shakespeare is a haunting presence in the background of many contemporary attempts to write poetic plays, but dramatists like Peter Oswald and Mike Bartlett have shown the possibilities for exciting new work that draws on Shakespearean elements.

In this workshop with poet and verse dramatist Richard O’Brien (a recent Teaching Fellow in Shakespeare and Creativity at The Shakespeare Institute), poets will learn techniques for writing verse that is dramatically effective onstage, while playwrights can explore ways to incorporate the power of poetic language and structure into their scripts.

Over the day you will develop a sense of Shakespearean dramatic construction, alongside more recent verse dramas drawing on the same techniques, to gain new creative pathways into these familiar texts. Participants will experiment with techniques combining drama and poetry, including shared/split/stolen lines, revelatory soliloquy, and direct address; exercises will consider the contributions made by metrical regularity and deviation to a scene’s tone, energy, and shape. You will be supported to play with this dialectic in your own writing and take home at least two scripted scenes for future development.

Suitable for poets, playwrights, and Shakespeare-lovers alike, this session takes a practical look at what makes Shakespearean drama different from much of the contemporary theatre alongside which it is still regularly performed and asks how we might take advantage of those same resources in the present day.

Saturday 25 January, 10.30am – 4.30pm.

All classes will be in our offices at 1 Dock Offices, Surrey Quays Road, Canada Water, SE16 2XU. The venue is a 2-minute walk from Canada Water Station. Take the ‘Lower Road’ exit from the station onto Surrey Quays Road, then walk straight ahead, crossing over Deal Porters Way, and the Dock Offices come up on the left. The door for the school is at the far end of the building.

More information about how all our face-to-face courses work can be found on the Face-to-Face courses page.

A 10% discount is available to residents local to the Poetry School (anyone currently living in Rotherhithe, Riverside, Surrey Docks, South Bermondsey, Grange or Livesey). Please contact [email protected] for further information.
Image Credit: erika dot net

About Richard O'Brien View Profile

Richard O’Brien‘s publications as a poet include The Emmores (The Emma Press, 2014) and A Bloody Mess (Valley Press, 2015). His plays have been performed at London’s Arcola Theatre, Birmingham Midland Arts Centre, Halesworth SHAKE Festival, and Nottingham Contemporary. He won an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors in 2017, and is the Birmingham Poet Laureate 2018-2020. Having completed a practice-based PhD on Shakespeare and the development of verse drama with the Shakespeare Institute, Richard is now a Visiting Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham, and also teaches early modern literature at Maynooth University in Ireland.

‘The Poetry School programmes such thoughtful and unusual courses and enables poets to feel validated, to become more curious, more skilled, more engaged in poetry and the world.’

– Summer 2019 survey response

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