ELA 4: What Playwrights Do: The Planning

Contrary to what their title would have you believe, playwrights do a lot more than just writing plays. They also plan them. See? There's a ton of diversity in their workdays.

4th GradeLanguage Arts
Elementary and Middle School4th Grade
LanguageEnglish Language

Transcript

00:25

Otherwise, you might end up in the rainforest without a raincoat or on the beach without [Girl in rainforest and begins to rain]

00:29

sunscreen… and that might just ruin your cool, free trip.

00:32

Anyway, that whole "planning" idea doesn’t just apply to adventures. [People on a rollercoaster]

00:35

It can be useful for all sorts of things, including writing a play.

00:39

An author doesn't just sit down and launch straight into writing a play. [Person scribbling on paper]

00:42

Well…maybe some of them do.

00:43

To each their own!

00:45

But some author's like to plan.

00:47

Some authors like to plan a lot. [Man drops stack of papers on author]

00:49

First, they have to decide how many characters there will be and what those characters will

00:52

be like.

00:53

Playwrights don’t get to speak to their audiences directly; they have to do it through

00:56

their characters, so it's pretty important to get this right.

00:59

So let's say our author's play has a grumpy old man, an excitable young child, a sassy [Play characters appear]

01:03

teenager girl, and an evil mad scientist.

01:06

These characters become the playwright's “Cast of Characters.”

01:08

Next up, the playwright must decide where the play will be set.

01:12

Whether it’s a city in present day or a village in the medieval ages, it’s pretty

01:15

crucial to write down and describe the setting. [Person writing down the play settings]

01:17

Otherwise all those characters will be just, like, floating in space or something.

01:21

Which could be cool.

01:22

Y'know, if you have a really talented set designer… [Characters floating in space]

01:24

The third planning step is to figure out what the big conflict of the play is.

01:28

After all, without a conflict, a play would just be a bunch of people being boring.

01:32

So yeah, the conflict is pretty important.

01:34

Finally, the playwright must plan out their plot. [Coop discussing step four of planning]

01:37

Once they know the conflict, they can work around it to build a beginning, middle and end.

01:40

How do the characters get themselves into the conflict? [Boy in a dingy and sharks circle]

01:42

And how do they get themselves out?

01:44

This is arguably the hardest part, as it requires working out all the details of the story. [A ladder appears and a shark eats the man]

01:48

But, hey, once all the work is done, the play is pretty much on the floor in a bunch of

01:52

separate pieces just waiting to be assembled.

01:55

Just don’t forget your screwdriver.

01:56

Or pen.

01:57

Writing a play with a screwdriver would be pretty tough. [Man holding a screwdriver and piece of paper]