Summer 2005

ONE: The Creation and Performance of the Solo Play

Francisco,William H.

06/27/2005 - 08/10/2005
Monday & Wednesday 01:30 PM - 04:30 PM

Downey 113

Creating a monodrama involves engaging the full life-cycle of a solo play: writing, acting, and directing/designing the performance. In this course, each student will create a monologue performance that speaks to or in the voice of a historical or contemporary subject. Students will come to the first class with the names of three historical or contemporary subjects whom they would be intensely interested in investigating through research, writing, and performance.

Beginning with a survey of the history and contemporary status of the monodrama, we will read texts and view recordings of solo performances. Through group discussion of the craft of playwriting and individual discussion with the instructor, students will select the subject of their play, making their choice in response to these questions: Why is the character compelled to talk to us? What are the dramatic circumstances behind this compulsion? How does the playwright turn what might have been a monologue into a theatrical experience, a monodrama that will involve the audience and hold its attention? To initiate the writing process, students will perform extensive research, investigating multiple sources such as biographies, autobiographies, diaries, newspapers, magazines, interviews, and more. The class will discuss each other's research methods to find and share helpful sources. While writing and revising, students will focus on the key elements of creating the character(s) and structuring the plot of the monodrama. The class will hear and discuss the evolution of each other's work and share their own discoveries as they deal with the art of the playwright.

Creating the performance of the solo play, the student now becomes the actor, director, and, to a limited degree, the designer. All of the work thus far must now be "physicalized" into the actual theatrical presentation. Class discussion of this process will include acting work on characterization and staging, and will ask: Where and when is the action of the solo play happening? How is the character dressed? What furniture and props are absolutely necessary in order to tell the character's story? Is music or other sound necessary? The finale of the course is a presentation of all the solo plays to an audience--the class, family, friends, and other students invited from the GLSP summer session.

Students will keep a solo play notebook, a three-ring loose-leaf notebook that will facilitate the reorganizing of class notes, ideas, questions, etc., along with the step-by-step, draft-by-draft creation of the final script. This journal will be turned in prior to the presentation of the solo plays.

No previous theater experience is required. Enrollment is limited to 12 students.

A syllabus for this course is available at:
Course Syllabus

William Francisco (B.A. Amherst College; M.F.A. Yale University) is professor emeritus of theater. He has directed 83 theatrical productions, 14 operas, 12 television specials, and three films, including the National Shakespeare Company's 1970s productions of She Stoops to Conquer, A Middsummer Night's Dream, and Julius Caesar; Central City (Colorado) Opera's productions in the 1980s and 1990s of Gianni Schicchi, Don Pasquale, The Merry Widow, The Elixir of Love, and Die Fledermaus. He directed the television special of Leonard Bernstein and the Boston Symphony Orchestra's performance of Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex. During the 1990s, he directed Wesleyan productions of Caligula, Evita, Under Milkwood, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Waiting for Godot, Nixon Apologizes to the Nation, The Face on the Bar Room Floor, Bent, Oleanna, and Little Murders.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Studio

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 12

Texts to purchase for this course:
Eric Bogosian, ESSENTIAL BOGOSIAN (Theatre Communications Group), Paperback

William Luce, BELLE OF AMHERST (Houghton Mifflin), Paperback

Anna Deavere Smith, FIRES IN THE MIRROR (Anchor), Paperback


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