Highlights from Cynthia Whitcomb’s presentation on “The Play’s The Thing”

Ashleigh’s Notes

By Ashleigh Rousselle

2008-2009 NAS Intern

Try writing with a partner: you can balance each other, you can act out a scene, you have two separate senses of humor

The difference between screenplays and theatre plays:
Screenplays—show (don’t tell), are visual, include character evolution, and are made for people of average intelligence
Plays—tell, are verbal, and are more intellectual

Plays are about discovery—what the audience does or does not know

When you begin to write a play—believe that you’ll end up somewhere

Write so that the audience is “inside the thing”—actively engaged

Less words=more emotion

Imagine the play—in detail— as you write it

Plays should have a lot of laughs, and a bit of tears

A suggestion: have an intermission by one hour into the show

A scene can be as long as you want

The biggest need in theatre is for Christmas plays (people can only see “Christmas Carol”, and “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” so many times)

You will write in the same style of whatever you read (so stay away from romance novels unless you are writing romance novels)

Writing is like a muscle: the more you do it—the stronger it gets

“Follow your joy, follow your bliss”—you can start a new career

Bounce your ideas off actors—they’re really emotionally open, and you can see what is or is not funny

Instead of copyrighting right away, register with the writer’s guild

When dealing with a contract, edit it as you like, then initial—don’t involve your lawyers right away

Just remember, with writing, “You win some, you lose some—you win some.”


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