Writing a good stage play

Chapter 1 The Play's the Thing The stage is a magical place.

Writing a good stage play

They seem so simple, yet their power and relevance have not diminished in hundreds of performances over the many years since Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller penned them. What is it that makes a great play great? It is all of these things and, of course, more. The ideal person does not exist.


Hamlet was a great guy. How, when the last page is done, do we know if we have a viable piece of work? While ultimately, this is subjective, there are many ways to approach writing a play which will facilitate finding out whether or not you achieved your goal of writing a great play.

First of all, as in all things, you must know your medium: Even the largest stage cannot accommodate car chases and explosions. To write truly effective theatre, you must immerse yourself in the medium. Go to your local community theatre and volunteer to work backstage, or even just go to watch some rehearsals.

Learn the limitations of space and live action; there are many. Learn that less is often more in the theatre. Learn that Johnny cannot turn into a werewolf in 5 minutes during a play; the make-up people will entertain murderous thoughts towards you, and it is highly unlikely that it can be done that quickly.

Learn to give Johnny a good amount of time for his transformation. Use the intermission, or write plenty of good scenes in between.

writing a good stage play

The more you know about theatre before you sit down to write your play, the better equipped you will be to begin. In playwriting, less truly is more. Take a look at the Plays section of The Writers Market.

A high percentage of the guidelines listed in this useful resource call for plays with only four to six characters: Many of the companies buying rights to original plays are ensemble groups with a small core of actors -- and small budgets.

You will want to write small, as well.

How to Write a Stage Play | Script Magazine

Think in terms of a singular setting. Consider some of the best plays of all time: All of these plays take place in a single setting: Keep in mind the unities of Time, Place and Action.

While theatrical aesthetics may change over time, you will find that people still love a play that begins at the beginning and proceeds in a linear fashion through to the end. Writing multiple scene changes, year gaps in time and action will alienate your audience; they want to get to know and care about your characters.

You have been "left hanging", wondering whatever happened. What was the resolution of the tragedy? You move on and later find out the ending. The same thing happens to theatre audiences. You only have a couple of hours.

writing a good stage play

You now have characters, a setting, and an incredible idea for a plot. How do you start?

Writing for the theatre? Be practical | Culture professionals network | The Guardian

Where do you start? Successful plays often start in the middle of something. The landlady is demanding the rent. This is an excellent device for introducing conflict and exposition.

In the first moments of this play we learn about the landlady, the protagonist, and their relationship. The bonus is that we are immediately propelled into the action. People have to be interested in what is happening to really hear what you want to say.

Get your audience into the action quickly and keep them there.To write a stage play, you have to be able to visualise how your play will appear on stage to audience members all over the theatre.

Once you get into that mindset, it becomes easier.

How to Write a Play - Part 1

If you’re struggling, watch a variety of plays at different theatres to see how things are done. A fun and easy guide to how to write a play. How to create characters and get ideas.

Where to start and how to build to a story climax. How to write a script that will work on the stage. Writing for the theatre? Be practical Good stage directions distinguish a great dramatist from merely a good writer.

or they will only take away from the writing. Write your own play. Writing for the stage is different than writing for a film script.

While many of the storytelling aspects are the same, there are differences important to note. In Script Magazine’s How to Write a Play section, you’ll find tips on theme, premise, plot, outlining, formatting a stage play, writing dialogue, scenes and the differences between.

Chapter 1 The Play's the Thing. The stage is a magical place. Live actors and a live audience make for an immediacy no other art of the written word can duplicate.

He received his B.A. magna cum laude in Dramatic Writing and Literature from Harvard College and his M.F.A. in Playwriting from UCLA. Creator of the book Young Playwrights and the course Introduction to Playwriting, Jonathan Dorf is available as a script consultant.

How to write a minute play | Playwrights' Center