Saturday, May 12, 2012

Got 10 Minutes?

 This post will also be found in Tehachapi's The Loop Newspaper

Just about everyone has a story. And you have, right now, an opportunity to tell it. The Tehachapi Community Theatre Playwright's Festival is entering it's first phase. This is the ten minute play festival that has been going on for the past three years. This year the festival is expanding to two weekends. 

So what is the first phase? Getting a collection of scripts. Now through June 16th you can submit a script for a ten minute play to TCT. Anyone living in LA and Kern county can submit. When you send one in you might be worried that you'll be competing with people with name recognition in theater. But the judges don't know who wrote what play. That is the plays are read blind. 

So how do you create a script for a ten minute play? Well first, come up with your story. And be ready for a surprise, ten minutes is a long time in terms of a story. When formatted as a script on 8.5x11 inch paper, a ten minute play is typically about ten pages.

Depending on your style in writing, once you have your basic idea for your play, you might outline it, or you might just start writing and see where it goes. Personally I usually do a ramble and see where the story goes. Though sometimes you'll find your characters taking the story into places you never thought to go. Sometimes that can work out, though others it can end in disaster. But don't worry too much. Tell your story.

Then fix it in editing. When I write a play, I don't let anyone read it until I get to at least a second draft. And serious readers don't see it until the third. And the story may have changed a lot by then. But that's fine, it's still your story.

I said before that when the script is in a standard formatting, a ten minute play is about ten pages. But how to get it formatted right... You can study script formatting, and stage play script formatting is different than screenplay script formatting, so be careful with that. Or you can download Celtx which is free script formatting software ( You have to register, but when you download and install Celtx it will take care of formatting for you. Then you can typeset the play and find out how many pages you have. And if you're close to ten, and your story is ready, it will save it as a PDF, which is one of the acceptable formats for submitting to the Playwright's Festival.

Now that you have your play saved in PDF format, you can send it in to TCT and wait to see what happens. Now if you don't get picked as one of the plays to be produced, don't worry too much, you've still done something big. You've told a story. And I submitted to all three years of the Playwrights Festival, and I've only had one selected. Yet I'm still glad I did every one. One of the ones that wasn't picked I submitted to another festival and it came in fourth. 

So write a play, tell your story, and submit it to TCT and maybe see your story come to life in October. For full rules and more information go to TCT's website.

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