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“Five Page Play Assignment
TA 305U Pohl 2012

Assignment Process and Format:Follow the guidelines above. Do not miss a step in the process.
Think up a situation that holds dramatic or comedic interest. Make it simple logical (not to say totally plausible) and playable.
Keep ALL of your exploratory notes in your reading journal. If your play is chosen for class projects we will ask to have your further input from notes.
Create as many as four characters (I prefer fewer). Give them names and bios (in your notes) knowing very well their backstory their needs their hopes and motivations.
Create a given circumstances list for the play.
Write a brief synopsis of the play this will be submitted with your five pages of action/dialogue.
Outline the action if you choose or simply put the characters into interaction. Sometimes the characters in interaction will simply write the play for you. However if things begin to get carried away by the characters return to mapping the action so that your five pages include all the basic elements of plot (see above).
Conclude the play in a logical way. Again logical doesnt mean plausible; it simply means that nothing happens in regards your story that totally dismisses its accepted elements.
Submit the synopsis of the play the five pages of action/dialogue AND a cover page in formats as shown in the example following.
(Guidelines adapted from Suite 101 article How to Write a Play Fast by Peter Reeves)

Start with a simple situation. Likewise simple ideas/concepts are best for a quickly written play.

The laws of playwriting are often treated to twists and turns and juxtaposition but this is achieved successfully only by great playwrights. For this exercise keep to the basic plot formula:
Plays have an introduction to character called the exposition in which usually we first learn what is common in the life (the stasis) of our characters.
It is here that the where what when and who are revealed.
Plays then sometimes very rapidly involve a disruption of that stasis by offering a problem or a conflict.
Plays then go through a number of plot complications that increase urgency in a need for resolution.
Plays may resolve the conflict in any number of ways but an accepted constant is that comedy will end happily drama will end somewhat painfully or seriously and tragedy will end in definite disaster.

Keep the setting of the play as simple as possible. Quickly written plays are about characters and not about huge sets.

Limit the number of characters. A maximum of five is sensible but less is preferable.

Identify a central conflict between at least two of your characters. A good technique is to ensure that your characters need something from each other. This will create instantaneous dramatic situations and a solid basis for conflict. Remember that conflict doesnt mean a battle between people but a problem that arises because of conflicting needs.

In creating rich characters spend time imagining each of your characters needs and their history (called the back story). Though character is revealed to the audience through ACTION a characters back story or past helps the author define the characters present choices and motivations. Write down notes about the past so you can return to these for added interest in the interaction. However do not worry if you dont know every last detail of a characters history. Characters will naturally flesh out once they are performed and when an actor has a chance to work with the script.

Before beginning the typing of the first draft the writer should create a brief synopsis. This should be a simple abstract of what the story will be and should not be too detailed. It should include how close each character is to achieving their goals and dramatic needs. It is a plot synopsis and not a draft. Write in present tense (example: As Al is waiting for the Max train he thinks he sees his ex-girlfriend Maude. She seems despondent etc.)

An audience wants to see what your character does and how he behaves as the play unfolds. Dont have your characters talk about what they want or what they are going to do or did do.whenever possible have them do it.

A good way for a writer to maintain interest is to give characters some elements that they would not want others to know. If the writer can foreshadow a revelation then this will maintain the audiences interest. In fact the playwright whos wishing to produce something quickly might consider a character secret as the basis for their whole story. Perhaps another character needs to find out what that secret is.

Format Example
Cover Page
Name of Play
Date of Submission
Character names ages (if significant)
Time of Action
Setting of Action

Dialogue written as follows:

Hey Maude..! Maude is that you??

(Looking up) Al? What are you doing here?

Yeah. Hey. Long time no see!!

Maud puts her book into her purse.

No kidding. What are you doing here?

Al approaches Maud. She flinches.

Whats wrong?