On Writing : New to playwriting by Cherie Grant

New to playwriting

I have been studying screenwriting for a number of years, but always wanted to write a play as well. Recently I got an idea into my head and I'm running with it and it's going really well. I'm fleshing out the story and writing scenes. What i need to know is where can I find, if any, formatting software? if no software then where do I find the format for formatting a play? This is my current battle. After which I have no idea what to do with the thing, but if there's anyone in Australia on here who knows what to do with a play I'd also love to read what you have to say. Regards.

CJ Walley

I just checked my copy of Celtx and there is a Theatre project template. You load it up and it formats very different to a screenplay. Free desktop version of Celtx (which I use) is available at the bottom of this page: https://www.celtx.com/desktop.html

Cherie Grant

Thanks CJ. God I'm thick. Thought I'd double check and yup I have a final draft version (that I already have) that has a theatre template, but to be honest I can't make much of it. I have been looking online for courses, but in my neck of the woods they are thin on the ground. Anyone know of any books on the matter?

CJ Walley

Does this help? It talks about all the different elements: http://www.playwriting101.com/

Cherie Grant

Thanks CJ, i'll take a look now and let you know.

Cherie Grant

okay that's quite indepth and will take a while to study. Do you write plays yourself CJ?

CJ Walley

No, I probably went just as wide-eyed as you did when you first saw the template.

Cherie Grant

Lol, well I have a bit of studying ahead of me, but I'm making progress on this play and it will need to be written up properly soon.

David Anthony

Hi Cherie, what part of Australia are you in. I'm originally from Australia and still have some contacts in Sydney and Melb that I could introduce you to.

York Davis

Break a leg Cherie(good luck in theatre jargon). I have a lot of theatre experience and have written 2 as yet unproduced plays. If you need specific questions answered?

Cherie Grant

Hi David, that's very kind of you. I am in Melbourne. York good luck in getting those plays produced. I am writing a comedy so I hope that gives me more opportunities to find a way to produce it like The melb comedy festival. Though to be honest I just have no idea how to go about this and where to turn. I have been trawling the internet for local and national theatre groups/resources/anything and there's not as much as i expected there to be or I'm just not finding all the right sites. I have wanted to write a play for many years, but nothing seemed to suit and the bam something hit me and I just love this little piece to death. I'm thoroughly enjoying writing it more than anything else I've written.

George Talaszek

I use Movie Magic screenwriter 6 - written over a dozen plays with it. They hace a Stage play format. Its advantage is it easily conerts to a screenplay if that happens. I ignore the Screenplay jargon (shot, etc). They have other products that may help you. You can download it free for 30 days - same with other software of that ilk.....Melbourne is one ofmy favorite places.....good luck

Cherie Grant

Thanks George.

Cherie Grant

I'm going to bump this because I still would like to hear from people about how one, as a writer, approaches getting a play made. what have other people done? I'm finding it very difficult to find information about the process here.

George Talaszek

You don't MAKE a play, You WRITE it! There is no one process... as many as there are playwrites. Take one of your screenplays - one you think would make a stage play. Imagine it on a stage, not a screen. Take away all the screenplay instructions (shots, close ups, Notes, etc. ). Start with that... but START ALREADY! I write for the stage,but every time I put in too much stage direction, I get asekd "Is this a Screeenplay?"). I don't write screenplays because I think it is too techy and subjective. I truly believe screenwriting is an art and that it occurs "on the fly"... actors, directors and others co-op to make the final product. For me, I write a play and don't like to give the actors much leeway... in a sense, I direct.... a habit I am tryingto break.

Gregory Kauffman

Samuel French used to have a little pamphlet, written in play format, that explains play format.

York Davis

Good advice George. Another thing you might do Cherie is go see a number of plays to get the "feel" of the stage and audience, which sometimes is different, often more personally involved than a movie audience. The "feel" of the stage play should certainly include the restrictions and limits of the confined spaces and scenes and the more extensive use of dialogue and character introspection, rather than use of mostly visual storytelling. Read some famous plays too, just as you would screenplays to learn the format. From one who has acted in many stage plays, musicals and operas, I don't believe you can write a play before experiencing many, at least from the audience. Go for it and "break a leg" Cherie, as we say in theatre!

Richard Toscan

If you've been involved in screenwriting, I'm guessing you have a program for that. Most of the leading software programs for screenwriting also include something resembling standard professional format for stage plays -- this is substantially different from the format used in published plays -- either within the program or as a free add-on. If you don't have that, playwriting format is easy to do with Word or any similar program. And unlike what happens in Hollywood, literary managers and artistic directors of theatres are reasonably forgiving on format for stage plays, though some new play contests are annoyingly specific on their format demands. There's a whole section on stage play format in Playwriting Seminars 2.0 and similar handbooks. Here's the link to the Samuel French format guidelines (more than a few ADs and Lit Mgrs might raise an eyebrow or two at the placement of character stage directions, but it would be rare for any of these folks to toss a script because of that): http://www.samuelfrench.com/content/files/upload/General%20SFI%20Formatt...

Cherie Grant

Thanks guys. Every bit of advice helps. I have seen a few theatre productions over the years and will be seeing one next month. So I'm not new to its enjoyment. Actually it'll be my third this year. (and I'm not talking musicals) I am currently reading Oscar Wilde's 'The importance of being Earnest'. I own a book of his complete works including plays. I haven't been able to find any play writing contests here in Australia. It's a smaller world than in the US. Thanks for the link too.

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