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Welcome to Inkapedia!
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Inkapedia is an online guidebook for young playwrights, like those involved in McCarter Theatre's "Youth Ink!" Program. Created from the collected knowledge of former students, McCarter educators, and professional playwrights and dramatists, Inkapedia is designed to take a crowbar to writer's block, and lend a helping hand to any playwright as they wrestle with imagining their stories onstage - perhaps for the first time.


If you're a first-time visitor, you might want to take some time to get lost in the network of entries. Let's say you're stuck on finding a topic to write about, you may want to check out the page on Inspiration. Maybe you've already been struck with an idea and you've jotted some of the scene down - you might want to check out the Action or Conflict pages, so you can do some revising. Maybe you've got a Character that really intrigues you.


If you're a returning reader, feel free to offer opinions or suggestions to McCarter staff members, so we can improve your experience here!

Playwright [ˈpleɪˌraɪt]Edit

There’s a reason it’s spelled Playwright and not Playwrite.


Think of other words that end in “-wright.” There aren't many left, but they're out there. You might know someone whose last name is "Cartwright" - it's one of those last names that comes from an old trade. "Smith" and "Fletcher" do the same thing. Think of the Wright Brothers. There's also "shipwright," and "wheelwright." What links all these words? They're all about making something.


Wright” is an outdated English word for “builder,” “maker,” or “craftsman.” The name reflects an essential truth about being a playwright. Writing plays differs from other forms of writing, like fiction or poetry, because the written work is not the final work of art. When you read a story, or a poem, you're reading exactly what the writer has writen. Plays, though, are meant to be seen, not read. The final work of art is the play onstage, not the play on the page. To start the journey to making a play that is staged in front of an audience, a playwright creates a blueprint of what each character does onstage, and what happens as a consequence. This blueprint is the script. But it’s only a blueprint until the play is staged.


At certain points in your process, you may run into challenges only a playwright runs into. Is what you're writing possible to physically do onstage? Will it be clear to the audience what is happening in this scene? Will it be clear to the actors and the director? How does this character sound? How does this character look? Because the production team will do their best to make sure they sound and look that way - if you think it tells the story. Plays involve characters living, breathing and doing in front of a group of people. But before they can do any of that, they need you to forge something entertaining, moving, and powerful for them to do. This is storytelling at its most hands-on.


So, remember: Plays are not written, they are wrought. They are built. Put on your Poetry hat and your Shop Class gloves.


Think of this wiki, along with the class, the advice given by the Teaching Artists and Dramaturgs, and all the other resources from McCarter and your school, as one big toolbox for you when you're "wrighting" your play. A Home Depot of dramatic techniques. Like any toolbox, none of these ideas will do the work for you. Try them out though, when you're writing. See how raising the Stakes in a scene changes your characters' Tactics, or where Subtext surfaces to create a unique Character Voice. You'll learn to use them quick. And once you know how to handle them, they'll make your process more efficient, more smooth, and will help you ultimately create a better-crafted work than you may have if you went at it with your bare hands.

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