1st Edition

Decentered Playwriting Alternative Techniques for the Stage

Edited By Carolyn M. Dunn, Eric Micha Holmes, Les Hunter Copyright 2024
    232 Pages 17 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    232 Pages 17 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Decentered Playwriting investigates new and alternative strategies for dramatic writing that incorporate non-Western, Indigenous, and underrepresented storytelling techniques and traditions while deepening a creative practice that decenters hegemonic methods.

    A collection of short essays and exercises by leading teaching artists, playwrights, and academics in the fields of playwriting and dramaturgy, this book focuses on reimagining pedagogical techniques by introducing playwrights to new storytelling methods, traditions, and ways of studying, and teaching diverse narratological practices.

    This is a vital and invaluable book for anyone teaching or studying playwriting, dramatic structure, storytelling at advanced undergraduate and graduate levels, or as part of their own professional practice.

    Part 1: Decenter(Ed) Playwriting: Alternative Tools, Techniques, and Structures

    1. Playwrights as Architects of Third Space: The Dramaturgy of Japanese Traditional Performing Arts

    Sarah Johnson

    2. The Dramaturgy of Nothingness

    Abhishek Majumdar

    3. Poetic Expression in Kānaka Maoli Playwriting Praxis

    Tammy Haili‘Ōpua Baker

    4. On Disaesthetics in Hip Hop Dramaturgy: Ruminations on Thinking and Doing

    Wind Dell Woods

    5. Context/Culture: Using Some of the Complex Dramaturgy of Black Theatre of the 19th Century to Build Contemporary Work

    Dominic Taylor

    6. Decentering Humans: Writing Our Way Out of the Apocalypse

    Chantal Bilodeau

    7. Write Where You Are

    Hank Willenbrink

    Part 2: Decenter(Ing) Playwriting: Community Practices, Ritual, and Healing

    8. Horizontal Theatre: Democratic Practices of the New Docudrama

    Les Hunter

    9. Toward Self-Construction: A Filipinx Dramaturgy in the Diaspora

    Luz Lorenzana Twigg

    10. Writing with Irene: Sustaining the Fornés Playwriting Method

    Anne Garcia-Romero and Marilo Nunez

    11. First People First: Community-Based Theatre Praxis in Native American and Indigenous Spaces

    Carolyn M. Dunn

    12. "Aruku-Improv," Playwriting and Performance Devising Dramaturgy

    Oluwatoyin Olokodana-James

    Part 3: Case Studies in Decentered Processes: Models and Testimonies

    13. Outsider Indian: A Decentered Narrative on the Long Journey of Native Playwriting

    Diane Glancy

    14. Deconstructing and Reconstructing Zimbabwean Ndebele Izaga: A Conversation on Playwriting as Auto-Ethnographic Experiment

    Bridget Foreman and Butshilo Nleya

    15. Unarcheology: Anticolonial Aesthetics and Putting Things Back in the Ground

    Fargo Tbakhi

    16. Indigenous Placemaking and Storyweaving: An Interview with Murielle Borst-Tarrant (Kuna, Rappahannock)

    Sarah Dangelo


    Carolyn M. Dunn is a playwright, dramaturg, actor, and director, whose plays have been Equity produced on stages in Los Angeles and New York. She is an Associate Professor of Theatre and Dance at California State University, Los Angeles, USA.

    Eric Micha Holmes is a dramatist, dramaturg, and educator, whose work has been produced and developed internationally. He teaches at The National Theatre School of Canada and Goddard College’s MFA in Creative Writing Program, USA.

    Les Hunter is a playwright and theatre historian. He is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of English and Creative Writing at Baldwin Wallace University, USA.

    "One of the great challenges for 21st century writers is how one forges one's own poetics to resist the 'realistic', well-made play, and the strictures of Aristotle and Stanislavski. How can we write for our communities and embrace the rich legacies of non-Aristotelian practice? What extraordinary conversations are gathered here in these pages."

    Paula Vogel, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of How I Learned to Drive and Indecent, USA

    "This is the kind of playwriting education I wish that I would have had. It makes me excited for the next generation of theater makers who will emerge from studying this book."

    Larissa FastHorse (Sicangu Lakota), MacArthur Fellow and playwright of The Thanksgiving Play, USA

    "This book offers us a radically hopeful vision of how we might teach playwriting—and think about the well-making of plays—if we wish to disrupt the relationship between systems of oppression and systems of theatre-making."

    Megan Sandberg-Zakian, Artistic Director, Boston Playwrights’ Theatre and Boston University MFA Playwriting Program, USA

    "Decentered Playwriting represents an extraordinary gathering of diverse scholars and artists, all posing fundamental questions about how drama might be conceived and created above, beyond, and without the hegemony of Aristotelian thinking. The collection addresses a deeply felt pedagogical need that has been left untended for far too long, and in this respect promises to become an essential text in the teaching of playwriting and dramaturgy."

    Art Borreca, Associate Professor and Co-Director of Iowa Playwrights Workshop and MFA Programs in Playwriting & Dramaturgy, USA

    "Decentered Playwriting leaps over the anxiety and reductive thinking swirling around our 'diversity problem' by showing how much we all have to gain by decolonizing our craft. There’s no theater maker or theater educator in this country not wrestling in some way with these issues right now. This book offers a revelatory and practical vision of the way forward."

    Lisa Kron, Tony Award-winning lyricist of Fun Home, USA

    "An invaluable resource for those looking to depart from received ways of play-making, either in pursuit of new collaborative approaches or alternative forms of storytelling. This will be a useful guidebook for those venturing off the beaten path."

    Alex McLean, Zuppa Theatre, Canada