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Learning to Write a Bad Play

Monday’s theatre master class provided something of a twist on the traditional model when Luigi Salerni (retired UIC professor) returned to teach students how to write a bad play!

The class started by defining the components a good play should have then broke out for students to write a mini-play that denies all of the components of a good play. Each writer cast their play from the assembled ensemble and the cast read the script to the group to evaluate how many of the good play components still remained—revealing just how hard it is to write an irredeemably bad play.

“We were all surprised to learn that each play could easily be transformed into a decent play with relatively minor changes in style and editing. Overall it was a hilarious and informative exercise.” —Candace Hudnell (BA Theatre)

Salerni describes the process of the master class: “We laugh a lot. That’s important. The process most often proves that trying to write a good play presupposes a pre-determined presumption of what a play must be and cripples the creative imagination by removing the fun out of it. Trying to write a masterpiece results in writing truly bad or weak plays. [The purpose of the class is to provide] a freeing experience that gives students permission to explore and ignite their creative potential as a writer.”