Short plays… who loves short plays? I’ve been working with them a lot lately. I just wrapped up a female playwrights festival in Prescott (next year’s submission process will open up to LAFPI writers – so stay in touch with us on Facebook), I’m in the middle of developing another short play fest for December, and I’m writing a short play each month this summer for HowlRound.com’s Here and Now Project.
The funny thing is that I used to hate short plays – I didn’t feel like there was ever enough time in a 10 minute play to get the story told. Maybe it’s because I was trying to say too much, or maybe it’s because I was still a new writer and I didn’t really understand the value of brevity. Whatever the cause, my aversion to the form has melted away and I am now a major fan… because it’s seriously challenging to write a whole play in 10 minutes! Much of the time I wind up thinking “What comes next” at the close of ten pages rather than satisfaction and catharsis. However, I’m finding that when I do strike it right, the sense of accomplishment is delicious.
And when I watched this year’s female playwright’s fest in Prescott – From the Mouths of Babes – I felt such happiness as the completion of the whole… made up of each individual playwright’s part – that I could scarce believe I used to loathe the 10 minute play format.
But maybe what’s most rewarding for me is the producibility of 10 minute plays. They’re easy to rehearse, easy to stage, and audiences get a kick out of seeing new writers in small doses… almost like a dinner party with lots of appetizers. I now totally understand why theater companies put out so many calls for short plays – they get to know new writers without committing to an expensive full-length production – something that can be frustrating as a playwright, but makes sense from a company standpoint.
Also, I’ve grown really tired of wrestling with the eternal “WHEN is SOMEONE going to PRODUCE my plays!?” ennui . The thing about producing on my own is that I feel like I’m actually doing something other than waiting. And hopefully it’s satisfying to the other playwrights getting produced as well.
In any case, it’s an interesting way to start the week… reflecting on the magic of short plays and the satisfaction of seeing them on their feet. Hopefully the Here and Now Project plays will see some stage life soon too – either way, it’s been great to work on so many 10-minute plays this summer… and it’s left me feeling really good about finishing up the full-length that’s been haunting me for the past several months – it’s a sense of accomplishment that I was sorely missing.
Because it’s really important to remind yourself that you don’t just have to sit around and wait…
Did you hear that?
Stop. Waiting. Now.