THEA 1314 Lecture Notes - Lecture 7: Ben Jonson, Joanne Akalaitis, The Mountaintop

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22 Feb 2020
The Playwright
Every play throughout the history of theatre started out as a "new play"
Playwright (as in craftsperson), not "playwrite" nor "playright" nor "playrite"
Actually putting pen to paper is playwriting
What the Playwright does…
Builds a story and new worlds
Defines characters
Writes dialogue
Creates a whole script for interpretation
Rewrites as needed
Reasons to Write a Play
Representation of history or heritage
Provide commentary on social and political issues
Give voice to unheard stories
Explore a different way of living
Portray the human condition
Create a work of art
Provide entertainment
History of the Poet/Playwright
Classical period : playwriting as contests and at festivals
Medieval period : playwriting seen as a Civic Duty
Renaissance period : playwriting as entertainment
Elizabethan England
Ben Jonson : coined the term "playwright" as an insult to others; described himself as a "poet"
Playwrights wrote for court and commoners alike
Playwright controlled the script until a company purchased it, after that, there was no creative
Paid in increments during writing; if it reached performance, paid for one day's performance
Stays this way until the late 19th century in most of the Western world
The Playwright's Copyright Laws
1971 : French National Assembly passes the first law for royalties
o Royalty : fee for each performance
1886 : First International Copyright Agreement
o Works written before 1923 are in the public domain (owned by the public)
o Work written after 1978 -- royalties are paid seventy years after author's death (family
estate continues to receive money even after their death)
When done right, it can be awesome
Either with the living playwright or with works in the public domain
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