I've sold one screenplay, have another about to go out.
I think it works wonderfully as a stage play, and really the most difficult part is the conflicting things you read about formatting.
I'll get to that in a moment.
My question is, if anyone is willing to read, is this: Although small casts are preferred, I do see The History Boys has a good 12 cast members. Can this script work if, instead of set decorations, I just have 10 folding chair on an empty stage, and characters relocate for each scene? Also, are lights fading in and out for every scene that much of a distration? Sure, I have 100 scenes in a screenplay, and while it's dialogue-driven and very theatrical in that regard, I can condense scenes, but can scene changes take place without dimming? Can I just have characters move from classroom to an office indicated by exposition like, "You wanted to see me, sir?"
Finally, and this is huge:
In a stage play (as opposed to a screenplay), does the start of a new scene *have* to begin on a new page? Formatting guidelines on-line offer different answers, and I do see that Rabbit Hole adheres to the recommendation of "new scene, new page."
Forgive me for the elementary question(s). The large number of scenes will bloat the page count if each scene must begin a new page.
Any insight you provide would be greatly appreciated.
It's difficult to answer these questions without seeing the script. That being said, however, many scripts have worked using minimal pieces. Another alternative is an abstract set that is used for multiple locations. (You may want to consult a director on this.)
As far as the number of cast members: can a few actors double in many roles?
Lights fading after every scene may not be advisable (in a play with nearly 100 scenes, it could be very redundant). Every now and then, however, a blackout can work to punctuate a scene.
As far as formatting: the Dramatist's Guild directory does not specify whether or not to place new scenes on a new page, however, doing so may assist with the readability.
For the most part, do everything in your power to avoid scene changes. Now don't get me wrong, if your script is episodic, that's fine, a lot of scenes are fine, but don't make the audience sit in the dark every three minutes. Minimal staging is much preferable to long or lengthy scene changes.
If you've ever seen a Broadway production, you'll notice that they'll often spend thousands of dollars on very expensive sets that flip, rotate, and slide. All this money is spent to make sure that the audience is never, ever waiting in the dark while the stagehands rearrange furniture.
If I was watching a play that made me sit through 100 lights-up, lights-down scene changes I would probably leave at intermission.
Also, keep in mind that you get one "freebie" scene change that you can go nuts with - that is, intermission. It's best to try to position big time or location transitions at intermission. Not just from a technical standpoint; time passing in real-life allows the audience to more easily grasp that time has passed on-stage. "The Seagull" for instance does this.
Can I just have characters move from classroom to an office indicated by exposition like, "You wanted to see me, sir?"
Much preferable to full-scene changes. Though, really, you're trying to answer questions that should be answered by the director. Lots of episodic scripts are already out there, and competent directors have strategies to stage these without resorting to a million and one scene changes. Don't include exposition just because you think the director might need it. Trust them to be able to represent it visually.
As far as "new scene, new page" goes, I've only seen that format used when the play was published in a booklet and the play only had a handful of scenes (like 4-6 throughout). In a highly episodic play like the one you're describing, I would not use a new page to signal the start of a scene.
In one way it reminds me of 'The Laramie Project' There were only two stage directions in that script. 1) Rain begins to fall, and 2) TV monitors drop from the ceiling all playing different news casts of the event. There were 8 actors playing an average of 5 characters each. The scenes, and characters where done with a prop or costume, a couple of chairs (if needed) and pools of light in an open auditorium.
With 100 scene changes my first thought is to do something similar, the actors move a chair or prop into an area and a simple cross fade of the lights from one area to another.
As my mentor, and friend would say 'Trust your audience, and your director.'
Most of the scripts that I've read don't have each scene on a separate page.