View single post by Michael Morris
 Posted: Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 09:47 pm
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Michael Morris


Joined: Thu Dec 15th, 2011
Posts: 36
Watch theater. Not TV, theater. There are a lot of conventions of screens and to a lesser extent novels that don't apply to the stage. Most obvious of which is where the audience is looking. The camera grants the screen director control of this. Stage, not so much.

Do not do the job of the set designer, costume designer et al. I personally write plays for the joy of concentrating on the dialog and not needing to give a rat's hindquarters about the business outside the dialog. This leads to, on my part, some very sparse plays as far as directions go.

Each scene must have some conflict to be worthy of the audience's time. Even an expositionary scene needs something at stake that gets resolved. Even mere ten minute plays can have several such 'beats' within them.

Avoid scene changes. The more the scene changes, the more expensive or abstract the play becomes. If you are ok with abstract though go with it, but a play shouldn't have hundreds of locals no matter how it works out. In the last large play I worked out, Five Against One, I knew it was going to be abstract like Our Town - I want it to be. Even so, I mentally quartered the stage and had a few mental pictures of what the set would roughly look like. Kitchen interior, two bedroom interiors, living room interior. Frontal apron area used for street scenes and one car scene. In my mind I see the focus moving between zones on the stage fluidly rather than having the action have to stall for a seen change.

The only part of the technical aspect of the play you need to bear in mind is the physical constraint of a costume change. Give at least 1 minute for these, and 2 minutes or more is better. While costume designers can work in some fast changes, the faster the change the less distinct the costumes can be.

When Moments - the play I'm working on now - is done completely I use actor monologues to cover the time needed to adjust the staging - this keeps the audience occupied during a technical process.

Speaking of the set and costumes, the only real role you have in these is if it appears in the dialog. If the character says something about a red cane, well then it's a red cane. Make it mean something in the story. I don't usually describe props, but in "The Picture Kept Will Remind Me" I sorta have to describe, in loose terms, the picture since it is what the characters talk about quite a bit and the thing is in the title.