Week Two (by Julie Zheng)

Structure in practice


In the second week we discussed structure and how to improve our monologues by adopting the techniques used in the Alligator Club by Amman Brar.


A week after reading David Edgar’s excellent book How a play works, we gathered again to learn about our next craft – structure. His book had given us an insight into audience, action, character and scenes, and now we were to take one of Aristotle’s theories from his Six Principles of Drama and try to structure a story about one of them. According to Aristotle: ‘every tragedy must have six parts, which parts determine its quality, namely, Plot, Character, Diction, Thought, Spectacle, Song’ [1].


So after 2 hours of individual writing, we shared what we’ve written. I wrote a series of small scenes that focused on the new structure of Jo-ha-ku, the Japanese theatre play structure of “begin slowly, speed, up and end swiftly”. Some of the other students developed their play by adopting different time lapse, pan in/pan out, and urgency (a train is approaching for example), as well as end-start-reconnect. It was interesting to see how every individual added in their own voice in the development of their play, and how we are very different in the styles, voice and characters. But is there a general theory that we as writers could adopt to create a better play structure?


We debated over this structure.We discussed the examples in classical plays such as Macbeth, Romeo & Juliet. We had a really passionate discussion about different approaches. Jennifer encouraged us to explore different styles and to find our own approach to structure a story.


What are the other ways of approaching the “perfect” structure for our own story? Jennifer mentioned an interesting technique about patterns, we could use symbolic structure to better guide our creations. There are examples of progression everywhere that we can use, for example using the concept of Spring to Winter or a meal from starters to desserts.  Changing the time and place also helped us unleash our imagination.


I can’t wait to go back home to try out these different techniques and continue my search for that perfect structure.






[1] Poetics, Aristotle,

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