Thursday, April 25, 2013

Reading Playscripts

Lately I've been helping read new play submissions.

For those who plan on submitting your work to any theater company for any competition, here are a few suggestions - just personally, from me to you, as a help - but let's call 'em "Rules" because that sounds so much more important:

1)  Follow competition rules: the deadline is the deadline.  And if the theater says they recycle rather than return submissions, don't include a SASE.  (Stamped And Self-addressed Envelope.)
2)  Don't print in funny-color ink.  Just black.  No hard-to-read-fonts.  Go for neat and legible.
3)  Even if it sounds cool, don't publish your playscript in magazine or book form or as a music video.  Or illustrate it.  A plain ol' paper script is best (or a PDF if that's requested or whatever).

Public domain images messed with.

4)  Weirdness might hurt you.  Not that you can't submit a good, weird play - please do!  But naming characters all numbers makes a hard read.  Dressing a character as a toaster had better, you know, work.  Your MS is being pulled from a pile of weird-and-terrible competition - you see the danger?
5)  Don't bore.
6)  Or disgust.  This play could be performed by real people for real people.  Impossible-to-perform or impossible-to-watch scenes of sex, violence, or nastiness makes your script impossible.  Like treating puppies or little children badly.  (Real kid, remember?)  Not that you can't be edgy...  But edgy theatre is different from icky theatre.
7)  The merely physically impossible might be... possible.  But easy to stage is a plus.
8)  My personal corollary to Rule # 6: don't try to shock the reader.  By the time they get to your MS, the reader has read pretty much everything you can think of (and then some!) and is no longer shockable.
9)  It's nice if you write a play.  You know, maybe a plot, dialogue, action, a beginning, a middle, an end... and a point.  Characters.  (Nice if these differ from each other and are, perhaps, something like real people.)  Extra points if it's more like a stage play than a movie.
10)  Write a good play.

All rules can be bent to accomplish Rule # 10.

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