To an unusual degree among writers, playwrights’ creations are not simply words on a page. Instead, a well-wrought play is an intricate machine that will be used by directors, actors, designers, and other creators to bring a fully staged, real-time performance into the world. The construction and maintenance of that machine is the playwright’s job, and it requires an array of complex, interconnected skills and techniques.
Enter Justin Maxwell and The Playwright’s Toolbox, a stimulating and wide-ranging resource for both beginning and experienced dramatists. It brings together invigorating, provocative, and irreverent exercises contributed by nearly 60 leading English-language playwrights, covering all stages of the writing process. It offers an accessible roadmap for those who have never written a play before, while providing new angles and solutions for seasoned writers struggling with a particular challenge. Covered here is everything fromgenerating ideas and world-building, through dialogue and plotting, to revision and the last steps before releasing a play into the world, making this an endlessly useful guide to building better plays.
Justin Maxwell is a playwright whose works include The Canopic Jar of My Sins, Niagara Falls, A Blinded Horse Dreams of Hippocampi, and An Outopia for Pigeons. His plays have been produced throughout North America. Currently, he is adapting the Tennessee Williams novel Moise and the World of Reason for the Tennessee Williams Theatre Company; it should premiere in late 2024. He is an Associate Professor in the Creative Writing Workshop, the MFA program at the University of New Orleans.