Friday, December 20, 2013

Free copies of my 10-minute plays

By popular request, I'm now offering free perusal copies of my 10-minute plays. Please email me if you'd like to receive a PDF file of one or more of the following scripts.

These scripts are free to use in a classroom setting, but a performance fee is required if you produce them on a stage or in competition.

Students are encouraged to use these in competition. Teachers are encouraged to use these in production or for classroom use. In fact, I know of one high school teacher who has been using my plays to teach his students subtext (You're Driving Me Crazy #3 is fairly dripping with it).

The plays include:

You're Driving Me Crazy
Comedy, 5M/8F, 40min
Individual plays: 2M, 1M/5F, 2M/1F and 2F, 10min each

A collection of four 10-minute plays exploring the wacky world of driver's ed class. (Read a sample.)

Fear of Clowns
Comedy/Drama, 2M or 1M/1F or 2F, 10min

A clown seeks help from a psychiatrist for his lifelong fear of people. (Read a sample.)

The Wanderer
Drama, 2M, 10min

A middle-aged businessman seeks an explanation from his father after the old man is arrested for shoplifting. (Read a sample.)

If you like what you read and want to receive a copy of any or all of these plays, just email me your request and I'll send you a PDF. All I ask is that you give me the name of your school and the date and location of any performances.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Playwriting opportunities for young playwrights

One of the most popular parts of my playwriting class at Thescon was my handout listing several playwriting opportunities for high school playwrights and younger. I thought I'd made enough copies for everyone, but then I never expected to get over 60 students between the two classes and the handouts disappeared before you could say "Thespian Playworks". If you'd like to get your own copy, you can print or download it here.

A couple of things to note. First, I've only included opportunities that are open to all students regardless of location. However, some of the best opportunities are local. Do a Google search or talk to theatre folk in your area to find these.

Second, the opportunities I list are specifically designed for young playwrights. But there's nothing stopping you from entering contests for adults. In fact, I've never come across a single contest that said it was only for playwrights age 18 and older. The competition may be tougher in an adult contest, but that may be just what some young people need to hone their craft.

I'll add opportunities as I find them so keep coming back for the latest updates. And please fell free to make copies for any budding Shakespeares or Durangs you know.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

My day at Thescon

Yesterday I taught my first playwriting class at the Colorado State High School Thespian Conference. The class was titled Writing the Play Inside You. And it was pure joy.

The kids were smart, creative and unerringly polite. They asked great questions. They responded enthusiastically to my writing prompts. And when it was over, several of the students couldn't wait to get home so they could finish the plays they'd started.

The focus of the class was how to use your personal experiences to write deeper, more satisfying plays. I've often found that the most boring, most pointless scripts I've ever based on real life.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. Real life is a great source of material. It's just that we're often tempted to stick too close to the facts.

We're not reporters. We're artists. The story comes first. The truth--well, that comes way down the list.

So I read to the students from a couple of my 10-minute plays and explained how I've taken the people I've known and the emotions I've felt and shaped them into something that served the story. I also spent a large part of the class trying to convince these young Shakespeares that they shouldn't be afraid to open their hearts and let the blood spill onto the page.

I shouldn't have wasted my breath. In their writing, the students wore their hearts on their proverbial sleeves, and the snatches of dialogue that they wrote bristled with passion and conflict and pain. There were scripts about shoplifting. There were scripts about alcoholism. There were scripts about anorexia. And you could tell that every one of these stories came from a very dark and personal space.

What the students needed was guidance in the more advanced aspects of playwriting: using subtext, exploiting your concept, developing subplots, defeating the second act curse.

So next time, I'm going to change the focus of my class and work on these kinds of things. I just wish I didn't have to wait a whole year!