Walking on Fire
The Shaping Force of Emotion in Writing Drama
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: Southern Illinois University Press
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Title Page, Copyright Page
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When I think of how this book began and was shaped, I start in a place. That place is the porch of my house beside the Rio Grande, south of Albuquerque. It is the late spring 1999. Two men, colleagues in the Dramatic Writing Program at the University of New Mexico, sit down...
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I come to this task, a professor and director/writer who has braved the crosswinds of the university and the classroom. The goals of my dramatic-writing students range from seeking an undergraduate education to a professional graduate degree or a playwriting career. I also...
1. The Seeds of Emotional Form
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Perhaps it is because I came of age in the sixties that I don’t consider Dionysus simply a quaint antiquarian construct. I saw it in the streets of Berkeley, I felt it in myself: the pull to run to the mountain to know what wasn’t taught in the classroom, to call the god forth, to become one, to...
2. The Fire Hose and the Nozzle
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When writers think about conflict, they often start with two sides clashing over some prize, two people arguing, choosing what can easily become a cartoon conflict as in, “He’s bad, he’s good, bang, slam, see them fight.” Conflict without the psychological dimension used by emotional...
3. The End Is Where You Started
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Is it possible to exaggerate the importance of endings? Endings exist only in the light shone by a beginning and a middle. The writer knows he has to stop at some point and write, “The End.” Endings come in many ways: life ends for others and for us; relationships end between...
4. Collaborating with Calamity
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For the writer, there is no visibility without the audience. The relationship between audience and drama completes the circuit of emotional form among writer, text, performer, and audience. Emotional form shapes the impact and meaning of the dramatic narrative and shapes the audience’s...
5. The Practice of Fire Walking
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We’ve sought the signs of emotional form through the processes of writing and viewing drama. Emotional form is something well known to writers, a key element of their lives, and how they make and respond to stories. We all register the constant ticking of emotional expression,...
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Page Count: 144
Illustrations: 3 B/w halftones
Publication Year: 2011