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Monday, November 28, 2016

Three little words

Well, the new play I'm developing with Palmer Ridge High School has reached a major milestone. I've finished the first draft. And let me tell you, typing those three little words--END OF PLAY--never gets old.

The story ended up quite a bit different from my original synopsis, but that's pretty standard. As characters interact and scenes play out, you start to see what works and what doesn't and things often need to go in a different direction to make things work.

It has ten speaking parts, including 7 females and 3 males, making it the most female-heavy play I've ever written. Director Josh Belk was hoping for a little larger cast than that so I added up to four walk-in parts that I'll let him decide how to use.

As for the set requirements, I was hoping to keep it to a single set which would represent the main room of the Texas ranch house where's it set, but the needs of the story dictated that I include a couple additional sets to represent a kitchen and bus station. I purposely kept these sets simple so that they can be done on small side stages or in front of the curtain.

The script ended up around 80 pages, which means the play should be 80 minutes long, with an intermission at the 40-minute mark. This is just about perfect.

The play doesn't quite feel real yet. It won't until I hear the actors say the lines. But at least the hard part is done. The rest of the development process is pure joy.

I sent the script to Josh today. In my email, I included some guidelines to help him understand what I'm looking to get out of the development process. I consider the cast and crew to be equal partners with me, and I hope that shows here:

1) Wording

I always read my script out loud a couple of times before sending it out, but hearing ti spoken by the actors will uncover any awkward lines I missed. If the actors forget the exact words that I write and keep wanting to say a line differently, I'll probably go with what they say as it's usually simpler and/or stronger.

2) Gags

I never know what will get laughs until the first couple rehearsals. I'll play around with most of the gags that fall flat. I'm fine with ad libs from the actors, especially if they're funnier than what I came up with. Some of them may even end up in the published script.

3) Story inconsistencies

Actors are always great at catching inconsistencies in their characters or continuity errors in the plot. I plan to fix all of these.

4) Production Challenges

I want to make this play fairly easy to produce so it'll get done by a lot of schools and community theatres. I'm depending on you to tell me which stage directions are more trouble than they're worth.

5) Slow Spots

I can't tell where the slow spots are until blocking starts. I'm always happy to cut out or add stuff to fix these.

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