I tried to drag the David Mamet MasterClass out as long as possible. It’s like when you come to the end of a great book. You don’t want to let it go so you slow your pace down. But the MasterClass is also compelling and addictive so I can’t stay away for too long. And now I’m on the penultimate week.
If you haven’t already read my reviews for the first 4 weeks of the David Mamet Teaches Dramatic Writing MasterClass, you can do so here:
- David Mamet MasterClass Week 1 – purpose of drama, dramatic rules, story ideas
- David Mamet MasterClass Week 2 – character, plot, structure, American Buffalo
- David Mamet MasterClass Week 3 – Glengarry Glen Ross, dialogue, narration, exposition
- David Mamet MasterClass Week 4 – scenes, writing process
Now let me wipe away my tears and get into this David Mamet MasterClass review for week 5.
David Mamet MasterClass Review (Week 5)
This may be the most important week of the David Mamet MasterClass for me.
This week held a light up to my own inadequacies as a writer.
My weakest point as a writer is actually not part of the writing process itself.
My weakest point is opening a feedback loop.
You only learn when you expose yourself to an audience and study their reactions.
In Mamet’s world as a playwright, that means putting on plays in front of an audience and watching whether they laugh or gasp. He says you can’t extort those things from an audience. And collectively the audience is a genius.
If you can turn out the lights in the theatre and make a crowd laugh or gasp in unison, you’ve really done something.
If you can’t make them laugh when you wanted them to, or cry when you wanted them to, then it’s time to go back to the drawing board and find out where you went wrong.
In the novelist world, this means consistently putting out books. Write, publish, hone. Write, publish, hone.
At the moment, I’m sitting on 3 and a half novels.
I’ve been waiting for the “right time” to publish them.
But that’s not helping me. That means I’ve been in the dark for years. I essentially have no feedback loop. I don’t know if I’m doing something right or wrong.
The value in this week of the David Mamet MasterClass is that you gain access to some veteran mindset tips hard won by a writer at the top of his craft.
A few people hate on some of the MasterClasses because they don’t show you the nuts and bolts of craft.
I personally don’t think that’s true. Especially in the case of the David Mamet MasterClass. He does get into the nitty-gritty of craft.
You are getting something much more valuable from these people. You are getting their years of expert experience packaged up in a way that will save you time learning the same lessons they had to learn.
You cannot learn how to write drama without writing plays, putting them on in front of an audience, and getting humiliated. – David Mamet
This penultimate week of the David Mamet MasterClass was valuable and thought-provoking and I particularly enjoyed the homework exercises and Mamet’s long meditation on truth in theatre, but I also got the feeling like we had begun to wind down.
Unlike the other MasterClasses, it felt like Mamet front-loaded his information in this course.
The opening weeks of the David Mamet MasterClass involved long video lessons and so much dense and helpful information that you had to rewatch and make notes.
But this week felt like taking the pressure off. I think I prefer this approach. The other MasterClasses eased you in and then progressively built up the information.
I don’t think either approach is better than the other but just comes down to personal preference.
If you like having the whole kitchen sink thrown at you and then winding down and letting it all soak in, you’ll love the David Mamet MasterClass.
I know a few people have taken my recommendation and enrolled in the David Mamet MasterClass. If you’re one of them, let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear what you’re finding valuable and maybe we can help each other with our works. I’ll be looking for beta-readers very soon so do get in touch if you want to sort out an arrangement where we help each other.