Okay, because it seems appropriate, I’ll start with the ubiquitous saying- “If I had more time, I would have written less.” That’s really what writing a ten-minute play is about, writing well- developed characters who move a plot forward with individual voices and actions; ending with a satisfying conclusion and hopefully, conveying something that is important to you and the audience. And all of this must be accomplished in about ten pages. It’s a challenge- a fun challenge. But it does take time. Because you are limited to few pages, every word in the script, from the character’s dialogue to the stage directions, has increased importance. Like sanding wood you work and work taking out the excess, until there is something left that is worth while to view. There are many ten-minute play festivals throughout the country but I find the most enjoyable are the festivals that have a theme. As a writer, it gives you a starting point for ideas, something to stew in your brain before you begin to write the first word; and as an audience member it adds another dimension to the festival to see how different people interpret themes in creative and different ways. Because a ten-minute play is such a unique format it lends itself to telling stories in untraditional manner, and the more ten-minute plays I read and see, I am always inspired by writers use their skill to experiment with storytelling in a unique and unexpected ways.
There is no one way to write a ten-minute play. I have been fortunate to have a few of my ten-minute plays produced locally and none of them have been written the same way- sometimes I outline first; sometimes I brainstorm free ideas until something emerges; but I always have a script read aloud before it is submitted to a theatre. Luckily, for ten minute play festivals it (obviously) does not take long to read a script so it’s not that difficult to grab a few people for a quick play reading of a draft. Hearing the script out loud is the only way to sense of the play’s timing, and make sure the dialogue feels natural. I am lucky to I have a lot of brutally honest people in my life (don’t tell them that) who will tell me if a joke is not funny; a line of dialogue sounds wordy, and will circle the typos you can’t see because you've been staring at the script for too long.
I am really looking forward to seeing my play produced in February and am grateful to The Stark Turn players and Dog Story theatre for allowing me to be a part of the Lake Effect Fringe Festival.
See The Eulogy with Josh VanderWeide, Kassandra Dill, Beth Anne Schaub and Rich Mulligan directed by Adam Hyde at the Dog Story Theater, 7 Jefferson SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503.