Second Year Masterclass One – Ola Animashawun (by Philip Jones)

Ola is a live wire, passionate about storytelling and theatre and it comes across loud and clear in the first of his Masterclass sessions with the Dramatic Writing MA year 2 students.

Ola Animashawin is the Associate Director of the Royal Court Theatre and his Masterclass is on Voice and Vision. In his Masterclass workshop Ola is going through the basics, but also the fundamentals of dramatic writing; first how do you choose a title for your play.

Ola calls this workshop Open Heart Theatre – a unique idea for creating a menu of dramatic spectacle to peruse before you choose your seats in a virtual multiplex theatre space.

When we get to the end of the Ola’s Master class sessions we’ll each present ten-minute scenes to the group; no pressure there then!

Ola has as 25 years of experience of working in theatre and 15 in the field of leading writing workshops and play development.

Ola is inspirational; his passion is electrifying. He literally buzzes with enthusiasm and he says he only has one big antipathy, “a burning desire to bring theatre and theatre audiences alive”, so Ola will be taking us through the steps of bringing an idea to life in the most exciting way; the first exercise to consider – what does a title say about your play!

Being very critical writers, a vote on our titles in the group ends with none of us scoring more than a 3 out of 7.

Many of us are crestfallen and ponder this first big lesson, which is don’t always believe the first title that comes into your head is the best; test it out on your peers and don’t get too wedded to a title at this point, but if you believe in it, keep it. Or change it. But don’t prevaricate over it.

Next, audience; Ola then takes us through an exercise where we consider the difference between writing a play for a group of free thinking liberal writers, or for a provincial audience at the Bridlington Play House,

We all agreed these are very crucial fundamentals for playwrights and are the introductory exercises for making our choices about the ideas for our scenes.

First think of writing a scene to appeal to the intellect of fellow writers, or then consider the difference it would make writing a scene to appeal to the heart of the same audience.

My first scene was based on a recent experience – the first meet from an online dating introduction; this was an appeal to the head of my audience; there was a secret revealed in the date that produced real personal dilemma.

My second scene to appeal to the heart was inspired by a story I read about a man in Syria waiting for it to rain so he could clean his home; a flat where all his family, his wife and children had been killed in a chemical attack.

The journalist who witnessed this believed it was the only story in about 20 years of war reporting he felt deep really should make a difference.

These were valuable exercises in learning how to temper and style your writing for diverse tastes; two very thought provoking and exciting first exercises in Ola’s Master class sessions before we develop our ten minute scenes on Justice for our Open Heart Theatre production.

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