Every year, the YoungArts program of the National YoungArts Foundation offers 15- to 18-year-old emerging artists from around the country the chance to be mentored by some of the world's greatest artists in an intimate environment. In this all-new YoungArts MasterClass presentation, three student writers join Tony Award-winning playwright John Guare for a once-in-a-lifetime workshop in Rome, Italy when the HBO Family documentary special John Guare: A YoungArts Masterclass debuts TUESDAY, MARCH 4 (7:30-8:00 p.m. ET/PT) on HBO. Get a sneak peek of the special in the stills below!
Oscar-nominated for the screenplay of "Atlantic City," John Guare is also known for such groundbreaking stage works as "A Free Man of Color" (Pulitzer Prize finalist); "House of Blue Leaves" (Obie/NY Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play); "Six Degrees of Separation" (Obie/NY Drama Critics Circle Award, London's Olivier Award for Best Play) and its screenplay; and "Two Gentlemen of Verona" (NY Drama Critics Prize, Tony Award, Best Musical). In John Guare: A YOUNGARTS MASTERCLASS, he welcomes three talented mentees - Caroline, Drew and Sharon - to the American Academy in Rome. Selected by the National YoungArts Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that identifies and supports the next generation of artists and contributes to the cultural vitality of the nation, they receive individual instruction from Guare, create their own works under his guidance and join him for a critique of their efforts.
The students and their mentor wander around Rome, finding inspiration in just about everything they see, from the Teatro Pompeii where Caesar was assassinated to cathedrals and churches. Guare notes that being a writer is a vocation, not a hobby, which must be accepted wholeheartedly. He asks the students to look at their surroundings and notice things in a brand new way, with a writer's eye.
Guare gives his students their assignment: to write a monologue about something they saw that day from The Voice of an imagined character. It's not about the perfect sentence or prose, he says, but finding the underlying energies and rhythms of the words.
Sharon recites her poetic piece aloud, to a positive response from Guare. Drew reads his humorous monologue about an American tourist, and is challenged to push beyond cliché. Finally, Caroline reads her father-daughter piece. When Guare asks if there is anything of herself in the work, she realizes she is reminded of her father, and is moved to tears. Caroline learns that by subtly working details of place into the dialogue, her pieces can become more relatable to the audience.
He encourages his students to pursue the "weird vibes," the things that scare them, because a writer shouldn't be a stranger to himself. He urges them to "go into the darkness," noting that the world is already a theater. It's a writer's job to explore it to the depths and report back.
In 2011, MASTERCLASS received an Emmy nomination in the category of Outstanding Children's Nonfiction, Reality or Reality-Competition Program.
Other HBO playdates: March 9 (1:30 p.m.), 12 (11:30 p.m.), 17 (10:00 a.m.), 21 (6:00 a.m.) and 28 (9:05 a.m.)
HBO Family playdates: March 8 (8:30 p.m.), 11 (6:30 p.m.), 14 (1:00 p.m., 11:15 p.m.), 19 (9:30 p.m.), 23 (6:30 p.m.), 27 (2:10 p.m.) and 29 (10:15 p.m.)
For more on the show, visit facebook.com/HBODocs and twitter.com @HBODocs #MasterClass.
John Guare: A YoungArts Masterclass is a production of Simon & Goodman Picture Company; produced and directed by Oscar and Emmy winners Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon.
John Guare provides some writing feedback for Drew Dickenson at a cafeÃŒï¿½ in Rome, Italy