Screenwriting : Turning a Screenplay into a Play. by Craig Prickett

Craig Prickett

Turning a Screenplay into a Play.

I showed a rough second draft of a screenplay I wrote to a friend who's a successful screenwriter,play write and lyricist in Australia.Long story short he ended up reading it and the first draft which was written as a musical.Twelve songs lyrics and music still need orchestration and arrangement and a thematic leitmotif.He strongly suggested to me to rewrite it as a stage musical rather than change it into a none musical with a couple of musical moments screenplay as I was doing.I've never written a play and haven't read one since school so any advice on structure or links to anything that would be useful would be much appreciated.

Kiril Maksimoski

Craig, I don;t think you need some special formatting for a stage play. From the ones I've read, actions are usually from the left, dialogue in the middle, nothing special. I suppose same for musicals too, maybe adding music cues... Plays are considered literary works and are usually published unlike screenplays, so I think you shouldn't loose too much time into proper formatting, rather then actual re-writing.

I myself can see some of my scripts transferred into works of prose, however just can't force myself to try :)...Although I've written short stories, poems etc, screenplay is my favorite format as I see it as most concise way to write.

Dan MaxXx

why don't you just ask your friend to mentor you? You said he's a successful screenwriter, lyricist and playwright. He must know.

Jason Mirch

Hey Craig Prickett, that is a great blog that CJ Walley mentioned. We also have a few playwrights on Stage 32 who can help you with rewriting the project. Feel free to reach out to me at and I will offer some further thoughts.

Nick Assunto - Stage32 Script Services

Full length plays are in two acts. You have to think about your set a lot (not to the point of doing the actual stagecraft, but pull up some plays to get an idea, Agatha Christie, Eugene O'Neill, Edward Albee, Neil LaBute, etc.), and describe it in much more detail than you would a location in a script. Characters simply enter and exit, now. Where your action would be thinking about camera, it should now be practically bare and it's simply direction now. Shakespeare notoriously resisted any direction in his plays and was completely dialogue focused, just for reference on that. Doesn't mean you can't have direction, just shouldn't be nearly as complex as a script. Dialogue is everything in plays. The pacing of it is very important. Needs to have a good flow. Once again note that Shakespeare wrote in iambic pentameter to create the verse. Neil LaBute is a master of overlapping dialogue, check out "The Mercy Seat" for a quick (demented) read. And then last but not least, watch HAMILTON.

Craig Prickett

Thanks everyone for your input.Nick I actually think setting is one of the things that caught his attention.I'm so aware of shooting costs I try and write to minimise them at all times I try to avoid or minimise firearms along with vehicles,special costumes,CGI anything that'll increase shooting costs.And I'm thinking that's why he see's a play in it.

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