Saturday, October 12, 2013

Give Us 10

We all have stories. Big stories and small ones. Some are things that have happened to us, while others are things that have happened to people we know. Still others are things we've just made up. Not every story is one we really want to share, while others we'll tell to anyone that will sit still long enough to listen to the whole thing. And sometimes we tell the same story to the same people over and over again. Sometimes we don't remember we told them, while other times, we tell the story again because it is important to us.

So, do you have a story? Of course you do. Like I said, we all have stories. The question really is whether you want to tell that story. Are you ready to tell it? Or have you told your story so often you need a new audience? Well once again you're going to have a chance to tell your story to an audience that hasn't heard it. That's right Tehachapi Community Theatre is going to be having another 10-minute play festival in the Spring. And the deadline for scripts is coming up November 15th.

Now not every story lends itself to being told in a play. Some work better as monologues while others might be better on the screen or as text. But if you can imagine your story set on an almost empty stage, this might be just the right place for your story.

Does your story involve multiple people? That's great! And action? That can be fun. But it could even just be two people sitting and talking. In the past few years some of the 10-minute plays that have been performed are just conversations that people have had. Of course it's more than just a basic conversation. The story needs to be giving us a message. But it's usually best to show your audience the message. If you're just going to tell them what you're trying to communicate, well, you probably don't need a play. An essay will do instead.

One thing to keep in mind is that ten minutes is a lot longer that you might usually think. Sit down with a timer and set it for ten minutes. You'll be surprised at how long a time that really is. And your story will need to fill up that time. (Oh, there is some leeway but you don't want anything too short or too long.) But you don't want to have the story stuffed with filler. But you do have a lot of jobs to do. You need to tell the story, develop the characters, and advance your plot.

Still here? OK, so you have a story you want to tell, and a play seems the right way to do it. Great. Now you just have to get it out of your head and onto paper. This can be done in a lot of different formats, but things become easier if you use a fairly standard play format. There exists special play writing software (I use Celtx) or you can find a template to use in a word processor (link to one example below). The big advantage to using a format like these is that you can get an idea of the length of the play just by counting pages. If you have a fairly normal amount of dialogue and stage directions then ten pages should be close to ten minutes.

Now hopefully I haven't scared you all away. And there are some of you out there thinking that a ten minute play is just the thing for you. And Tehachapi Community Theatre's deadline for plays is coming up November 15th. So get to writing and send them in. We might be seeing you play on stage at the BeeKay Theatre in Tehachapi next Spring.



  1. I may have to try my hand...I've a couple of ideas...hmmm...thanks for sharing the info. :-)