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Fostering Aspiring Playwrights

“Women need delusion; men need something new.” So goes a line in Neil Simon’s play “Chapter Two,” currently on stage at Laguna Playhouse.

While some audience members might think: “I wish I’d said that,” others might want more, wondering perhaps, what it would take to write a play that someone would want to see, perhaps even more than once.

For adults yearning to liberate their inner playwright, Laguna Playhouse is offering “Intro to Playwriting: Write, Direct and Share a Short Play,” which began this week.

The course, followed up on Feb.19 by “Introduction to Theatre: The Art and Business of Putting Together a Show,” will take students backstage to introduce the variety of artists involved in the production of the musical “Having it All.” Written by David Goldsmith and Wendy Perelman, and directed by Richard Israel, it will open here on March 9.

Both courses are part of the Playhouse’s ambition to reach a wider Orange County audience that already appreciates theater or is eager to learn about it.

The creative, brave or curious get a chance to tell their story for the stage by enrolling in the seven-week class with Laguna-based playwright and creative literary assistant Lauren Simon (no relation to Neil). She promises to show them how to concoct, write, direct and present a 10-page play. The class, conceived by creative director Ann E. Wareham and executive director Karen Wood, will include fine points of the writing and revising process and culminate in a 10-minute showcase to show off to family and friends.

“No experience is necessary, just a sense of adventure and wanting to have fun,” Simon emphasized.

A trained journalist, Simon said that her daughter Charlotte’s grade-school participation in theater ultimately propelled her into telling stories in a theatrical manner. “I wanted to have as much fun as my daughter,” she recalled. Now in her 20s, Charlotte is a working actor in Chicago, said Simon.

When Simon took her first playwriting workshop in Idyllwild, Calif., she got her wish while writing “Sis,” a 10-minute play inspired by her former mother-in-law, and never looked back. “It did not intimidate me at all to write in different media,” she said. “The craft of journalism is not dissimilar to playwriting. You set the scene in the beginning and then take people for a ride.”

She explained that most of her inspiration comes from people she’s met and places she’s been, like Moscow, Ida., where she earned a master’s degree, or historical events, with copious research at the center of it all.

She said that classes are small and that students had signed up but that there was  room for more. “My role as artistic assistant involves not only creative input to our artistic director but also education and outreach, the goal of which is to familiarize the community with the Playhouse,” she said.  “Since this is a workshop, I might even write a new play myself.”

“Intro to Playwriting…” takes place in the Playhouse Green Room and runs from Jan. 15 to March 5 on Tuesday, 10:30 a.m. until noon. Tuition is $250 and discounted 25 percent for residents, Players Club members, seniors and students. It includes a single ticket to the March 5 preview performance of “Having it All.”

Intro to Theatre also takes place in the Green Room, Feb. 19 to March 28 on Tuesdays, 1:30-3 p.m., and also includes the preview show.

Info: 949-497-2787x 203  www.lagunaplayhouse.com

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