There’s beauty and meaning to mine from your life story, and this workshop will help you artistically express what you’ve overcome and achieved, and creatively share your experience to benefit others through the medium of theatre. You’ll learn how to write successful dramatic monologues based on your life that are personally meaningful, emotionally satisfying, and relevant and engaging for an audience. In class, through thematic writing prompts and creative exploration, you’ll develop your ordinary and extraordinary life experiences into powerful, dramatic monologues that can be performed – by you or an actor – with universal appeal. In class meetings will present elements of dramatic structure and explore the artistic qualities necessary for an effective dramatic monologue. We’ll explore the role of conflict, plot, communicating subtext, voice, narrative, and the importance of set-up. New writing will be generated in and out of class, shared in class and aspects of revision will be presented and practiced. Beginning and experienced writers in any genre are welcome!
“Memoir as Monologue taught me the power of my own story. Kelly’s guidance on creating effective drama, her concrete feedback on improving my work, the nurturing environment she created for participants and the excellent resources she brought to the table opened a whole new world for me. This was one of the most effective online classes I’ve taken.” — Diane Glass, 2016 class member
Read an interview here with Kelly on this dynamic class.
Week One: Memoir vs. Monologue: How Dramatic Writing Makes the Leap from Page to Stage
All kinds of expressive writing, from diary/journal writing to memoir to poetry, foster healing and personal growth. Writing for the stage offers a uniquely imaginative process for healing and transformation as well. We’ll explore how writing for the stage differs from writing a memoir or personal essay. You’ll learn tools for adapting personal story for dramatic writing as a theatrical experience that engages an audience. Elements of dramatic structure will be introduced.
Week Two: The Art of Crafting Set-Up
We’ll explore taking a short piece of memoir and shaping it theatrically, focusing on developing an effective dramatic set-up. Crafting an effective monologue set up involves imagination and immediacy, a distinctive voice, cohesive narrative structure, meaningful theme, and cohesive plot. We’ll explore personal themes of life choices, mistakes, roads taken and not taken, encountering internal and external obstacles, new beginnings, thresholds, rites of passage as the source for crafting dramatic monologues.
Week Three: Conflict – Experiencing Obstacles, Crafting Resilience
Conflict is a universal experience, a fact of life, and a necessary element of dramatic writing. How we meet it, how we shape it, how we share it is the stuff of wise living and great storytelling. We’ll experiment and explore conflict as a personal encounter and literary device and as a necessary stage of any journey toward wholeness. This session will explore how to artistically construct compelling narratives from personal conflicts, shaping the experience of resilience to involve and inspire an audience.
Week Four: Showing Versus Telling – Voice as a Vehicle for Dramatic Action
The memoir writer uses written description and authorial narration to illustrate setting, character, internal thoughts, external actions, feelings, motivations, needs, conflicts and consequences. The dramatic writer of monologue must craft, from the voice of a single character/speaker, compelling speech and gesture to show, rather than tell a story. We’ll explore how monologue presents a speaker’s needs, motivation and conflict in a way that involves the audience by establishing a “willing suspension of disbelief.”
Week Five: Creative Tools for Revising & Fine-Tuning
Focus on how the process of revision moves from page to stage - and stage back to page; additional thematic writing prompts for use with writing already generated in class; discussing strategies for going deeper; dealing with creative blocks and putting it all together – theme, arc, voice, stagecraft.
Week Six: The Art of Collaboration – Presenting Your Monologue
Whether or not you plan on personally performing your dramatic monologue or putting it in the hands of an actor, your writing will take on additional dimension in the journey toward sharing it with an audience. We’ll explore aspects of collaborating with a director, an actor, a designer, producer or publisher in the process of reaching an audience as well as resources for finding potential collaborators.
This class is ideal for people who do word arts–writing, storytelling, spoken word, theater, and other forms of TLA–and are ready to put themselves out there more in the world and in their work. Because of the innovate exercises and engaging discussions, this class would be very appropriate for both new and seasoned word artists who want to learn more, and find greater community together.
This is an online class. Each workshop will present engaging content designed to spark personal reflection, discussion, and dynamic writing prompts. Additionally, because developing voice is an essential element of this class, there will be a group phone conference offered once weekly so participants can read and listen to monologue drafts being read aloud. Students should expect to spend 3 -5 hours or so on suggested readings, reflecting and sharing on a probing question, engaging in creative writing prompts, sharing writing in a phone conference and responding to peers’ work. We’ll create a safe and supportive environment, offering respectful support that inspires the development of every writer’s voice.
Kelly DuMar is pleased to be teaching her fourth online class for TLAN. She’s a poet, playwright and workshop facilitator from the Boston area, and author of three poetry chapbooks: “girl in tree bark," (Nixes Mate), “Tree of the Apple,” (Two of Cups Press), and “All These Cures,” (Lit House Press). Kelly is also author of a non-fiction book, Before You Forget – The Wisdom of Writing Diaries for Your Children. Kelly’s award winning plays are produced around the US and are published by dramatic publishers. Kelly founded and produces the Our Voices Festival of Women Playwrights at Wellesley College, now in its 13th year, and leads a variety of workshops for writers across the US. She’s on the board and faculty of The International Women’s Writing Guild and produces the IWWG Summer Conference Play Lab and the IWWG Annual Boston Writing Conference, now in its fourth year. Kelly facilitates a weekly writing workshop for women, the Farm Pond Writer’s Collective, now in its fifth year. Kelly is a certified psychodramatist and a Fellow in the American Society for Group Psychotherapy & Psychodrama. You can follow Kelly’s daily nature blog, “#NewThisDay Writing From My Photo Stream,” and join her mailing list at kellydumar.com
The Transformative Language Arts Network is a 501(c)3 non-profit email@example.com