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10 Things from The Playwrights Center about Script Submission–BLOG January 2, 2019

Posted on Jan 2, 2019 in PLC BLOG

Ten Things a Reader Wants You to Know (or, How to Keep Your Script in Consideration) 1. A script is not a musical score. 2. There is a distinction between a play and an experimental theatre piece. 3. Send the right project to the right theatre. 4. Remember, theatre is theatre. Be realistic about what can be accomplished in theatre. 5. The stage directions are not there to demonstrate your literary ability or creativity. 6. Start at the very beginning, or set the scene properly. 7. Don’t submit the first draft of your first play. 8. Know what you are writing. 9. Spelling and grammar count. So does formatting. 10. Don’t send a musical to a play contest and don’t send a play to a musical contest (and so many other scenarios…). For the full article — which is...

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Musical Theatre: The Craft of Composing Lyrics — BLOG — December 28, 2018

Posted on Dec 28, 2018 in PLC BLOG

Crafting a Lyric Lyrics have the same forms as the music(1) — but which comes first: the music or the lyric? Usually — the idea. What follows depends entirely on the method of collaboration, even if the collaborator is yourself as a Composer-Lyricist. Sometimes a lyric will burst forth completely or nearly formed and just vomit itself onto your page. That is a rare blessing. Many times a lyric is constructed, shaped and moulded like a mini-play. Then you compose the music to it. Often times, a Lyricist is handed music, or music is played for him or her (sometimes over and over again) until he/she finds the rhythm and meter of the song. Then there are those instances where a bit of music or a bit of lyric begins the process followed by a bit more of lyric...

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Musical Theatre: The Craft of Composing Music — BLOG — December 6, 2018

Posted on Dec 6, 2018 in PLC BLOG

The Theatre Song TYPE (not an exhaustive list) The Overture — in olden times, as in Opera, and Operetta, the Overture was a separately composed, self-contained melody meant to get us ready for the action. Its transition to Musical Theatre enabled the composer to tease the audience with ‘gems’ from the score. And who is not happily teased by one of the greatest overtures in all Musical Theatre: GYPSY. The Showtune — (a particular type of Theatre Song, usually with a score full of them, and can appear in any of the forms below) The Reprise — a repetition of a song in the show to echo or remind us of the Protagonist’s, (or other character’s) want or need, or stumbling block. The Dance Number — a sung song with inherent need for dance, accomplished in a dance break...

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The Perfect Play? — BLOG — November 27, 2018

Posted on Nov 27, 2018 in PLC BLOG

THE PERFECT PLAY? Is a play ever really finished, done, thrillingly able to live on its own forever without tinkering? No. Each of us could fix, rewrite, tinker, ad infinitum, ad nauseum, any script we have ever created. The perfect play does not exist. A play will never be perfect. Just as a human being will never be perfect. But we can get as close as is humanly possible. There is always something, because the target of perfectionism is a moving one. A moving target is very difficult to hit at the very center each time. With every shot you take, the aim gets closer to the center, but there is always a stray round or two, because unlike your aim with a gun or bow and arrow, there is no skill that you can learn to make everything...

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Proofreaders Marks — BLOG August 30, 2018

Posted on Aug 30, 2018 in PLC BLOG

This is for all those who have tried to decipher what the heck they are supposed to do with the return of a manuscript from a proofreader. Half-serious, half-in-jest, it is something to think about. But, oh, as an editor, the things you wish you could say! This is not copyrightable, but use it for a release of tension in your class, workshop or seminar. CLICK BLOG08132018Proofreadersmarks to download this BLOG POST...

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Capturing Characters Onstage — BLOG August 28, 2018

Posted on Aug 28, 2018 in PLC BLOG

I had the privilege to be called down to Ferrum College and the Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre in the summer of 2002. I had just gotten back from writing a commissioned musical for the Salt Lake Olympics that did quite well there, and was just setting back in to life in Nova Scotia when I got a call from Rex. He asked me to come down and be the dramaturg for a week or so to  help him get his new script on its feet. Well, I went and loved it! This article appeared sometime later. It was an interview with Tina Hanlon and Rex, the founder of BRDT at Ferrum and a close friend. — C. Michael Perry Capturing Characters on Stage for the College and Community: An Interview with Playwright Rex Stephenson By Tina L. Hanlon, associate...

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Submitting a Script to… Anyone — BLOG — August 9, 2018

Posted on Aug 9, 2018 in PLC BLOG

Submitting a Script to Festivals, Theatres, Anyone BLOG August 9, 2018 1 Your script is your calling card. It speaks for you and for your characters. If it doesn’t LOOK its best, it might not even get read. 2 If it doesn’t read well — it will get put down. 3 If the ending isn’t satisfiying, the person who read it will wonder why it was ever submitted, and you may not ever get another chance with them. 4 If there is no specific appeal — to some group of people — then how can anyone market it, including yourself. 1) TO DO: Send your script in PDF format. Don’t send Word docs, Final Draft files, or anything else. PDFs look far more professional, and they can be read anywhere without compatibility issues! Let your script speak for itself....

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Three Questions for EVERY Writer BLOG — July 28, 2018

Posted on Jul 28, 2018 in PLC BLOG

Three Questions for Every Writer What is the event that propels me to the next scene? Why did I care about this story? What is it that makes me want to write it? What does the character want? (In each scene AND over all.) by C. Michael Perry I keep this on my wall, over my computer. May be used in classroom situations CLICK BLOG07282018ThreeQuestionsWriter to download a PDF version of this BLOG POST...

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Theatre As A Compass — BLOG July 21, 2018

Posted on Jul 21, 2018 in PLC BLOG

Theatre As A Compass The reason I publish for others to produce (maybe even the reason that I write what I write) is to not necessarily ‘teach’ an audience some lesson, moral or pedagogical, but to present to a gathered group of thinking-feeling individuals, human beings on a stage in their sometimes-wisdom and oftentimes-folly, as unique, interesting, thinking, caring, if flawed individuals. Every so often I come across a script that embodies, nearly perfectly and totally, what I value in a theatrical experience. I try to fill my catalog with those types of plays. Yes, I value entertainment –– laughter and tears –– without the value of being entertained, audiences become disengaged. If there is no entertainment the message to thinking-feeling beings is lost. Theatre changes lives. The lives of the performers and production staff, AND the lives of...

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Realistic Dialog BLOG — March 8, 2018

Posted on Mar 9, 2018 in PLC BLOG

Have you ever heard the term “Realistic Dialog”? It is a very misunderstood concept. There is a huge difference between words sounding like someone could say them, that they come from a characters heart, and out of their mouth after hopefully passing through their brain; and speech that is directly off the streets, out of the boardroom, the school, the hairdresser’s salon, or any myriad of other types of locations where playwrights set the action of their plays. It is a good thing that the words being spoken by a character sound like that character would sound — logical, regional, conscious of their class and place in the world (unless of course, they are lying or creating a subterfuge). It is not a good thing for the words to sound like they just walked in off the streets, or...

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A Playwright’s Potential to Excellence — BLOG August 10, 2017

Posted on Aug 10, 2017 in PLC BLOG

Apply this to you, the Playwright (Composer, Lyricist) and to each of your characters. It sort of goes along with what I wrote last time, but since humans have been talking about this for at least 2000 years, I thought it would be good to mention it again. “Tentative efforts lead to tentative outcomes. Therefore give yourself FULLY to your endeavors. Decide to construct your character [yours and those in your play] through excellent actions and determine to pay the price of a worthy goal. The trials you encounter will introduce you to your strengths. Remain steadfast…and one day you will build something that endures; something worthy of your potential.” –Epectitus, Roman teacher and philosopher — 55-135 AD I think Epectitus should have been a playwrighting teacher. This advice is perfect for creating characters in your plays and musicals...

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Why Do You Write For The Theatre — BLOG 27 July 2017

Posted on Jul 28, 2017 in PLC BLOG

Why do you write for the theatre? A Playwright, a Lyricist, a Composer? What gets you up in the morning to begin? What keeps you up at night, because the words or melodies in your head won’t leave you alone? What can interrupt any moment of any day, just so you can jot something down? Why won’t they leave you alone? What have you done to insure that you will always want to write? Can you define why you write? What drives you? If you can you will be on the road to a long and satisfying career, whether amateur or professional––or somewhere in-between. If you cannot, then don’t bother. Dedication and commitment are the two things that are necessary for any writer, let alone a writer of theatre. (Or should that be a ‘wrighter’ of theatre?) Your answers...

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Conflict — BLOG July 20, 2017

Posted on Jul 20, 2017 in PLC BLOG

You know — many playwrights struggle over conflict. Some even wonder if they can do without it. Some think it is fine, but how do they use it? Some don’t like conflict, so they try to avoid it. Others prefer to just let their characters talk things out. In just trying to decide if you want, need or should write conflict, you have proven that conflict is essential and inherent in every story, in every relationship, in every thought process. You cannot do without conflict. Every scene, every ‘moment’ must have some level of conflict in it; some relationship to the story of the play. If we look at the acting system distilled from the Stella Adler school of acting, we come up with: Objectives, Obstacles, Tactics. (Which, of course, is based in The Method of another great acting...

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Character Arc What and Why – BLOG May 25, 2017

Posted on May 25, 2017 in PLC BLOG

What is a Character Arc and Why is it necessary? A Character Arc is the journey that a character takes through his or her life in the play. It encompasses backstory, yes, but it’s biggest focus is what happens to the character during the course of their two hours on stage, and maybe secondarily, what their future might hold after the play ends. I believe each character has an arc. Others would disagree. Some arcs are huge, covering a lot of ups and downs, plenty of emotional shifts, wide changes in behavior and/or thought. Others may have very little movement; but no character is entirely static. If you have a completely static character, why have them in the play at all? Their interruptions, distractions – conflicts with others – might best be handed by another character. Each character has...

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Submitting To A Theatre – BLOG May 5, 2017

Posted on May 5, 2017 in PLC BLOG

Submitting a Play or Musical to a Theatre There are many opportunities for this to happen, here are just a few: If you write musicals, then there is a very good resource for you to join with, or become aware of. The Musical Writerzine by Carol DeGuire is an exceptional help in discovering quarterly who is accepting what and from whom. Contact Carol: VISIT:( For writers of all sorts of theatrical enterprises the New Play Exchange offers a lot of visibility for your product. You register as a writer (I think it’s a $10 yearly fee). It is a database with notifications depending on what you select as categories. You will get email notifications from the producers/theatres who are listed and looking for new plays like the ones you write. VISIT: Also Ken Davenport, a Broadway/Off-Broadway producer...

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The Process of Theatre Writing – BLOG April 20, 2017

Posted on Apr 20, 2017 in PLC BLOG

What can I say about playwrighting that can take you from the ideas, to the words, to the page, to the stage? Not a lot in one sitting. BUT– I have written the scripts for a dozen or so musicals and written the music and lyrics for more than 30 more. I was commissioned at the age of 18 to write my first musical. At age 19 I finished it, together with some of my closest friends, and the commissioners actually produced it and it was quite successful. That was in 1973. I have won awards, been produced across the world, and have spent more hours inside a theatre in rehearsal, than some people have been alive. I have quite enjoyed the process of writing.  I spent years as a professional actor, then a director/choreographer, then a teacher in...

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Submitting to a Publisher – BLOG April 13, 2017

Posted on Apr 13, 2017 in PLC BLOG

Well, this one can be complicated. Each publisher has different requirements for play and musical submission. Some are agented, (which means that only if you have an agent can you be placed with that particular publisher). Some only publish from certain markets, (which means if you have not had a New York City production you can pretty well count on not being read, let alone accepted, by some publishers (especially in the Musical market). Some accept unsolicited manuscripts! (not many). If your play has not been produced — do not send it to anyone but an agent or directly to a producer. (Those are entirely different strategies than submitting to publishers.) For open submissions policies, there are usually 3-steps you have to go through. Never send anything unsolicited! Ever! Nyet! Ka-put!!! Even if they say they accept unsolicited manuscripts....

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How many characters should I write for – BLOG 3 March 2017

Posted on Mar 30, 2017 in PLC BLOG

In a recent post on a Facebook Playwrights page the number of characters in a play or musical was discussed. Now: Number of characters does not necessarily mean the number of actors needed to play them. Double-casting, or multiple casting, is usually a directors choice, but sometimes a playwright may choose the device of one, or all, of his/her performers, playing multiple characters, including opposite gender casting. It is wonderfully theatrical! My collaborator and I are working on a musical that is looking like 8 characters will be portrayed by 8 actors. Our previous musical ended up having 8 characters needing 8 actors to tell the story. Anyone see a pattern developing? If you are expecting professional and regional theatres to produce your play, the cast numbers (not necessarily character numbers) must be lower (musicals can get away with...

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