TheatreCraft: Playwriting with Vickie Donoghue

The playwriting workshop was probably my favourite session at TheatreCraft. It was liberating and interesting as participants had the opportunity to meet accomplished emerging playwright Vickie Donoghue, author of Mudlarks, recently seen at the Bush Theatre.

Vickie Donoghue spoke about how she is inspired by images. Donoghue encouraged us to select from a range of images and write for a few minutes on whatever inspiration came to mind. Donoghue advises us that undertaking a postgraduate qualification is beneficial to future playwrights as completing her MA was what helped her to write full length plays – a daunting task.

We practised warm-up exercises, “free writing” about our journey to TheatreCraft. A few participants even chose to share their amazing short written pieces. We followed this up by writing for a further two minutes, developing a character. Four more minutes were spent adding dialogue for our characters. I found it fascinating how inspiring a picture can be and how a seemingly average journey can spur on a series of creative ideas.

In a concluding question and answer session, helpful tips included:

  • Reading various plays to find out what you think makes the play “work” and then apply this to your own work.
  • Sign up for courses, put yourself out there and make connections with other playwrights.
  • Don’t send your work out until it is absolutely ready. Select two or three trusted people who you think can give you the best constructive criticism and feedback.
  • If you ever get writers block, try using free-writing to inspire you.
  • Make sure your story has a beginning, middle, end and turning points. Plays are stronger when well thought through.

A few play recommendations from Billericay native Vickie Donoghue include works by Enda Walsh, Simon Stephens and Joel Hoard.

Follow @vickiedonoghue on Twitter for more writing tips.

Image by Curtis Brown agency