I got the idea for this from overhearing a snippet of conversation in a store. I've never formally learned how to write plays (I'll confess that this is the first I've ever finished) so I may not have the formatting right...but I figured it's about time I jump on in!
by Annie Stephens
PAUL, impulsive and overly dramatic
CHRISTINE, his girlfriend, practical and a control freak
JACK, Paul’s roommate
Paul and Christine’s apartment
(PAUL, frantic, rushes onstage followed closely by an incensed CHRISTINE)
OK, just tell me why, WHY couldn’t you have tried to mind your own business for once? Honestly! What were you thinking?
I TOLD you, I was just trying to be friendly! Isn’t that what neighbors are supposed to do? Look, I swear on-well, on anything you want me to swear on-I didn’t mean to scare her! She was crying so hard, and everyone else was just standing there. I wanted to help!
Oh, and you think what you did was helpful? She’s never going to recover from this!
CHRISTINE! For the last time: I was TRYING to help her. I was NOT trying to kill him! Look, I saw a bad situation and wanted to do something about it. I didn’t think about it, I just DID it! Is it my fault that he decided to freak out and commit suicide?!
(They are interrupted as a visibly worried JACK enters)
Umm, do you two realize that the entire building can hear you?
Well, if they can, it’s HER fault!
(ignoring PAUL and walking over to CHRISTINE)
What’s going on? Did I hear something about suicide? What happened?
( grabs JACK’s arm and pulls him downstage, pointing out at the audience)
Just look out the window. Down there, see the crowd and that little girl?
(still pacing upstage while JACK and CHRISTINE stand still, looking out at audience)
Oh, sure, take HER side. No one cares that I’m just as much a victim here as anyone. I suppose now you’re going to start attacking me too. It’s not enough, is it, that I’m consumed with remorse and shame? That I’m going to relive the events of this day over and over again, for the rest of my life? This is going to follow me and haunt me forever; I won’t be able to go anywhere without people pointing and whispering about what a monster I am! No, my life is completely ruined, and all because I tried to help that poor-
(JACK suddenly starts laughing, almost hysterically)
PAUL AND CHRISTINE
This is NOT funny!
(trying to speak through his laughter)
Paul--you--you drove that’s girl’s--you made her--
Well, I don’t think it’s very amusing, and I’ll bet that poor little girl doesn’t think so either!
Christine! I was only trying to help! If I’d known he was going to jump, I sure as hell wouldn’t have gone near either of them! I mean, what kind of psychotic kitten just jumps headfirst off of a branch that’s 30 feet off the ground when I’m about two inches away from saving him?!
(PAUL abruptly sits down on the stage and covers his face with his hands)
Oh my God, you scared him to death! Literally!
(walks back offstage, leaving CHRISTINE, arms crossed, standing over PAUL)
Very nice. Unfolds smoothly right up till the end. Paul's first long passage seemed to repeat the same thing in different ways. The problem, I felt, wasn't in its length, but in its lack of information. I think each sentence in any play, but especially in a very short play, must continually add new information. That could just be me pushing my style on you, but I don't think so. I'm anxious to hear what others say.
If you are truly being honest and this is your first play, I'm on my feet applauding. You have a natural instinct for timing--for pacing the information you impart to the audience. You engaged me and led me through the entire piece. Brava!
Now, I challenge you to write a ten minute play and post it (in your format, about 8 pages). On Oct. 16 we begin our Submission Spree and you're gonna have as good a chance at getting produced as any of us.
Don't rest! The more you write the better you get and the better you get the easier it is.
Well done for posting! Putting your writing up for public inspection is terrifying isn’t it? I think Playfull said it is like being grabbed by the genitals or something. As a woman, I can’t totally identify, but I can say that it does feel excruciatingly personal!
I thought the opening of the play was fast paced and immediately engaging. I was hooked in straight away. For me, the length is what constrains it too much. The centre felt rushed and needed slowing down. There were signs of comic delivery that I thought you could embellish on. I wasn’t convinced about the characterisation of Jack. The other two, I found much more plausible and endearing and they could have been developed to fit all sorts of different plays. Can I suggest you try and develop those characters a little in their own right? Maybe give them a life and a background and find out who they are for yourself? Maybe stick them in different situations and see how they would react? Sometimes toying with them like that can help round them up a little. Feel free to ignore everything I have said by the way! I have never written a play, so am speaking purely as a reader!
Hope that you find something helpful in here, and keep writing!
Sorry, Edd, but I loved that I had no idea what they were talking about. I don't think you need Jack. Jack is a convenience to explain the situation. I always feel sorry for characters that are written to be used. I don't think you need to explain, or the kitten, or anything. I think you can end this play without the audience knowing what exactly happeded.
I loved that I didn't know. Your dialogue felt natural. I would avoid the caps for emphasis. I think you need to only do that when it will change the meaning if they don't emphasis the right word. Actors are smart people. They'll get it. Trust.
I would look at every time you repeated something. They say, whovever the hell 'they' are, that you only mention it once in a play. So the couple of times you do that, you need to say something else. It's a good idea to consider the characters, what they want, what the stakes are. I'm being nit-picky here....I really like this big time, I just don't think you have to tie it up with a bow.
Wonderful. Seems you have little trouble writing, but more finishing. Mars in Pisces?
Paddy, I've no idea what you're talking about. I loved that I had no idea either. Best you reread what I said. In fact, I said pretty much exactly what you said only with verbosity. Why the "sorry?" I'm getting out my whip!
Edd has never said that to me. I suppose I should be grateful about that. ;-)
Oh, and I liked the play, too, and didn't think you needed Jack, either. Let the information come out through either Christine or Paul, or maybe not at all (though I rather liked the idea of literally scaring one to death). And I think the caps can be replaced by italics IF NECESSARY (I just put that in caps do show how you don't need to :)).
Edd owes me a one-page play, btw. I own him one, too, but I don't have time right now, and I think he does. :--P
Now that I look at it again I can see what you mean about Jack, and about tightening up the dialogue. Now my fingers are itching to attack the keyboard again.
Thanks, everyone, for the detailed feedback! I'd respond more but I'm under the influence of codeine cough syrup and the results might be frightening. ;)