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Phase 2: Scoring, Sequencing & Scripting

Updated: Jan 15

“Words are spells in our mouths. My interest in the history of words—  where they came from, where they’re going— has a direct impact on my playwriting because, for me, language is a physical act.”

— Suzan-Lori Parks, “Elements of Style.” American Plays and Other Works. NYC. TCG 1995

After accumulating a wealth of material in Stage 1, we progress to Phase 2: Scoring, Sequencing, and Scripting. This pivotal stage involves refining and documenting our findings, transitioning from dynamic studio work to shaping the narrative on paper.  Suzan-Lori Parks' profound insight sets the stage for our exploration into scoring, sequencing, and scripting, the transformative phases that translate actions to words on the page to be embodied in the present and the future.


In the world of CTC, a score is our guiding melody. Drawing inspiration from musical scores, we craft detailed maps of actions and theatrical language using words on the page. Let's look at examples of two kinds of scores: Theatrical & Physical.

A Theatrical Score orchestrates cues and actions for the creative team, weaving lights, sound, and music into a harmonious moment. Witness the creation of a moment using a Theatrical Score from NAHOONKARA in a Theatrical Development Lab 

Theatrical Score: "A Whale of a Story"

  1. Uncle Frank sits in a chair with a pipe; candles, the kids sit on the floor; fiddle music plays in the background. He begins to tell the story of the whale 

  2. A sheer curtain appears from behind the black curtain with a projection of a whale; sound of fiddle increases

  3. the curtain rolls around the space & exits behind the black curtain

  4. 2 mirrored flats  enter and the projection moves to the mirrors; sound of fiddle increases and sounds of water and whales added

  5. The flats exit behind the curtain; the story ends

Originally written a published as a novel, this lab was the first theatrical exploration of the stage adaptation. This early stage exploration of a theatrical score supported playwright Peter Grandbois in updating the draft, transforming longer passages of narrative dialogue into impactful theatrical moments of storytelling. As a collaborative team, we were able to further define the specific worlds of the play as well as the primary theatrical storytelling elements that will become the foundation of the production design.

A Physical Score becomes a dance of movements, like in The Woman Who Was Me, where Liz and I created unique "writing scores" revealing the character's inner world. Lanie is a writer. So we created a set of “writing scores” that were included throughout the play as purely physical and theatrical moments.

Writing Score #1

  1. Sit at desk

  2. Open your notebook and find the page

  3. Set notebook on desk

  4. Pick up pen

  5. Pen to paper, beat, stillness

  6. Click the pen, look at notebook

  7. Eye focus moves up from the notebook into space, hand with pen follows, to standing

  8. Beat. Presence. Awareness.

  9. Sit

You can see the Writing Score in action below as we wove it into the narrative sequence.


Just as in music and choreography, sequencing is our narrative symphony. We define the order of actions and events to tell a compelling story. Narrative sequences unveil plot and character development. Action sequences, like the opening of The Woman Who Was Me, map out individual movements. The opening sequence includes the writing score from above.

Lights up on the vertical bed up center. We see Lanie sleeping.

  1. Turn over 

  2. See fan (eye circle) 

  3. Rub eyes

LANIE: I woke the next morning to the rattle

of the ceiling fan

dat dat DAT, dat dat DAT, dat DAT, dat DAT, dat DAT.

My life cut

with each spin of the blade.

The fan churning 

the humid summer air.  

Was it a loose screw?  

That was two months ago.  Only two months.


Lights shift to reveal her writing desk stage left.

Lanie goes to her desk to begin work.

Writing score. Then…

  1. image (DSR)  → catch in corner of eye →turn

  2. take in image → sing:

You touch me 

I hear the sound of mandolins 

You kiss me; 

with your kiss my life begins, 

you’re spring to me…

  1. See pen

LANIE: Now, I tell the story of a woman

who became…

 Music plays and we hear Nina Simone’s “Wild as the Wind” 

Lights shift and evolve as she stands up from her chair.

  1. write “Elizabeth” in the air (arterial) and rise

  2. at top drop pen → see and hear it → interstitial 

  3. inhale; reach with tail  X SR (pulled)

Music fades.

Lights return to the writing desk look.

Let's zoom out and consider how to create the narrative sequence of a story. The image below is from the Theatrical Development Lab for the play Project Unspeakable. During this phase of development, we were collectively mapping the narrative sequence.

In this image, the top line maps the the play's two acts across time, with a details of the Act 1 climax. The second line maps major events and people throughout the narrative. This became the outline for the script.


As we delve into scripting, our objective is to seamlessly integrate scores and sequences with dialogue. There isn't a singular script; rather, we create various types to serve distinct purposes:

  • Rehearsal script: A dynamic working document capturing events, dialogue, and major actions.

  • Production script: A technical guide for the creative and production teams, encompassing cues and logistics.

  • Perusal script: A public-facing version focused on the narrative, offering a glimpse into the theatrical vision.

"Words are spells in our mouths," and with this ethos, our Script Development Lab supports playwrights in every stage. From early development to full production, we value each word, recognizing its power to inspire and shape our artistic vision.

In this phase, you'll encounter challenges—it's a natural part of the creative journey. Iterations and variations on the material will be plentiful as you, your team, and the audience meticulously refine the work for production. However, amidst these challenges lie numerous opportunities to garner support for your project. Embrace the difficulties, for they are the stepping stones that will empower you to emerge resilient and well-prepared, poised to launch into the next exhilarating phase: Production!

Pause, let's return to the our orginal questions before we move into production:

  • What’s your vision? 

  • Where are you in development? 

  • What do you need to move forward? 



Up Next

Phase 3: Production

  • Workshop Productions: Elevating Ideas

  • Festival Productions: Shared Experiences

  • The Premiere: Unveiling Artistic Mastery

  • The Horizon: Envisioning Beyond

“We can observe the story, which is mental; feel the story, which is physical; let the story go, which is emotional; then forgive the story, which is spiritual, after which we use the materials of it to build a house of knowledge.”

― Joy Harjo, Poet Warrior: A Memoir


Elevate your craft, amplify your vision, strengthen your leadership capacity – your creative odyssey awaits!

Our Developmental Pathway to Production provides a framework for you and your team to journey from idea through full production. Receive tools that will revolutionize your creative producing process!

Learn how to create your own Developmental Pathway to Production in our upcoming online workshop, part of our 2024 workshop series, Artists Supporting Artists. Upon workshop completion, you'll emerge:

  • Empowered with the skills to design a developmental pathway for production

  • Inspired to explore innovative activities with your audience

  • With newly acquired tools & resources to effectively lead a creative process

Explore insightful and applicable themes in each session!

Session 1: The 3 Phases of Development & Production (02/12)

Session 2: Activities with Your Audience (02/19)

Session 3: Resource Planning (02/26)

Designed for maximum flexibility, our workshops fit seamlessly into your bustling artist schedule. Whether live on Zoom or OnDemand, materials remain accessible for a year post-workshop. Full series participants enjoy extended access through 2025!

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