So you’ve always dreamed of making it to Broadway... or maybe not, but bringing your stories to life on stage is a great way to express yourself, spread the news on your cause and bring art to your community.
Take a seat
The best way to get a feel for theater is to actually go to one. Try to find a play that addresses your issue (this might take a bit of research) and use this experience as a drawing board for your own play. If you can't get to an actual play due to time, money, etc., chances are you can find a DVD of a play in the library or buy one on the internet.
Think it through
Choose your theme. Organize your thoughts and main points in outline form. Also, think of a final point you want to make in your play. Leave your audience with a gritty piece of knowledge about your issue.
Learn some terms
Read up on the process of writing a play. Find out the definitions of theater terms you'll need to know. Some of these are:
- Scene: A subdivision of an act in a dramatic presentation in which the setting is fixed and the time continuous.
- Act: One of the major divisions of a play or opera. (Scenes occur within these acts)
- Soliloquy: A dramatic convention by means of which a character, alone onstage, utters his or her thoughts aloud.
- Tragicomedy: A type of drama that combines certain elements of both tragedy and comedy. The play's plot tends to be serious, leading to a terrible catastrophe, until an unexpected turn in events leads to a reversal of circumstance, and the story ends happily.
- more...For more terms click here.
Take it over
- Start with a clever and quick opening sentence.
- Make sure you keep your theme running throughout your play.
- Make time to look for good quotes to support your points.
- Think (and write) concisely; steer towards using shorter sentences.
- Don't include big words you wouldn't normally use in conversation.
- Read your play aloud as you write so you can tell if it sounds forced.
- Do research and find facts that are relevant to your audience.
A time and a place
Choose setting for your play. This could be as simple as a classroom in the year 2008 or as complex as the town of Danbury, CT in the 1920s. The setting should be interesting but also directly related to your cause.
Plays revolve around the characters in them. Make sure you spend enough time developing believable characters. Draw pictures if necessary, base a character on someone you know, or act your character ideas out. Also, figure out who the main character will be and why.
Talk the talk
Start writing dialogue for your characters. The dialogue should flow and allow characters to interact. Shorter sentences work best (unless you're going for a Shakespearean feel). Decide on a tone for your play. Will it be funny, tranquil, dismal? Create dialogue that fits that tone.
The things and the stuff
Make sure your characters move around. Add stage directions (they always appear in parentheses like this) and fun props to liven up the action. If you want a more serious tone, less is more. Don't worry about too many props and action if you want the dialogue to be the main focus.
After you finish jotting down all the different pieces of your play, it's time to read it over and tweak the content. You might find this easier to do if you have your friends or fam act some scenes out. See how the scenes work and make some changes. Ask another person to read your next draft and get more ideas from them. Make sure your topic is clear; you want people to come away from your play affected by the issue.
Find your cast
Gather friends, classmates, and family members to act in your play. Post flyers advertising your call for actors. Don't forget to recruit from the drama class. If you have too many people, hold an audition. Have each candidate read a scene and decide who is best for the job.
A place to play
Now you have to figure out where and when you want to perform your play. Ask your principal if you can use the auditorium, or maybe you can use your family room, backyard or a local park (this may require a permit). Charge people a can of food or a clothing item to be donated to a shelter for admission.
What will they wear?
Dig around your closet to find costumes. You can always ask neighbors for donations of old clothes too! If no one has anything suitable, check out local thrift shops! You might find some really cheap treasures.
Make it official
Make a program for your visitors, giving credit to everyone involved. You may want to also list a few facts about your cause and why it’s important enough that you wrote and produced a play about it.
Advertise! Make flyers, email the event to list-serves, create an event on facebook, be creative and get the word out.
You’re ready to go! Good luck and remember to have fun!
Need more help?
A good site for playwriting tips is Playwriting 101.