Play Selection

  • DEAR FUTURE SENIOR DIRECTORS,

     I am happy to say that you are signed up for the Directing class next spring. The following information is to help you find the PERFECT one act to direct. The requirements for your one act choice are listed below. As you read each play, fill out a play structure sheet. You are required to read 10 one acts, although it may take more than that to find the PERFECT one act.

     Your one act choices (1st, 2nd and 3rd choice), plus the script itself and 10 1-act play summaries are due the first day of class.  SO.... it is imperative that you begin reading now. Use the summer to get a head start... because come next year.... you will be too worried about grades or trying to find the right college, rather than working on finding the PERFECT one act.

    The following information will guide you in where to find scripts and what to consider when choosing a script to direct. Read this over carefully.

    Lastly you will want to decide what to do for a class fundraiser. The money raised from this will play for your scripts as well as any other items you want that our department does not already provide. ie: a specific gobo, lighting instrument, special paint, etc.

     

    REMEMBER   - THE DIRECTOR’S JOB IS TO. . .

    1. Interpret a playwright’s script through your own personal expression as an artist.
    2. Create a vision of the script that can be turned into a production.
    3. Communicate the story described in the script clearly through creative movement and dialogue.
    4. Collaborate with designers to produce lights, costumes, set and sound that serve to enhance the play’s concepts and meaning in a unified way.
    5. Find a way to get the cast of actors to translate the agreed-on interpretation of the script to an audience through their words and actions.

    SO, CHOOSING THE RIGHT SCRIPT IS PERHAPS THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT DECISION YOU WILL MAKE IN THIS CLASS. FAILURE TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT SCRIPT COULD SEND YOU INTO A DOWNWARD SPIRAL THE REST OF THE SEMESTER.

     

    GOOD LUCK.

     

     

    WHERE TO FIND SCRIPTS

    There are a ton of publishing houses, however four offer the most worthwhile selection. Each company holds the rights to a published play. Some plays, like Shakespeare and other classics may not cost anything because the rights have expired. Most though, range in price, depending on popularity. Do a little research and call to see what the rights and scripts for your play should be.

    Samuel French:  (212) 206-8990 plays/musicals       http://samuelfrench.com/store/

    Dramatists Play Service: (212) 683-8960 plays        http://www.dramatists.com/

    Dramatic Publishing: (800) 448-7469                    http://www.dramaticpublishing.com/

    Baker's Plays:  (617) 482-1280 plays                     http://bakersplays.com/store/

    Playscripts, Inc.                                                   http://playscripts.com

    YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO DO PLAYS …….

    • That come from over seas
    • That are student written
    • That are musicals

    Obviously there are other places to find plays: Take the time to investigate all your resources and options.

    1. your local public library
    2. book stores.... it doesn’t hurt to buy a few for yourself... plus if you talk sweet to me, the theatre dept. will purchase your plays from you. (up to $30)

     

     

    PLAY SUMMARIES

    As you read each play, fill out a PLAY SUMMARY sheet found in this pack. Give a brief description of basic facts needed to 1) remember the play later and   2) make an intellectual decision for you play choice.

    Once you have read AT LEAST 10 ONE ACT PLAYS, Submit your ONE ACT play summaries here: 1-Act Play Summary

     

    PLAY SELECTION

    STEP 1: NARROW THE SELECTION

    STEP 2: PRODUCTION CONSIDERATIONS

    * Audience Appropriate……..look at Parkway Ratings

    * Adaptability to the Space

    * Technical Requirements

    * Personal Choice

    STEP 3: FILL OUT APPLICATION FOR SUBMISSION

     

     

    STEP 1:   NARROWING THE SELECTION

    WHAT TYPE OF LITERATURE IS IT?

    A simple and straightforward short play is by no means synonymous with unworthy. Beginning directors often stumble because they feel that only obscure or obviously literary material is worth doing. That kind of intellectual elitism can result in the worst theatrical crime... being boring. Do know what type of literature or GENRE you would be more inclined to direct and start there.

                DRAMA

                a serious story line with a hopeful or happy ending     (To Kill A Mockingbird, The Miracle Worker, Death of a Salesman)

                TRAGEDY

    an intense story line in which the protagonist “falls” to death or despair as a result of some fatal flaw in his character; catharsis is experienced (audience empathizes for the protagonist) (Othello, The Diviners, Romeo and Juliet )

                COMEDY

    a lighthearted subject taken seriously or a serious subject taken lightheartedly (Laughter on the 23rd Floor, You Can’t Take It With You, The Odd Couple )

                FARCE

    comedy of physical and unrealistic action, with mistaken identification, chases and slapstick action (Noises Off, Lend Me A Tenor, A Flea In Her Ear)

                MELODRAMA

    over exaggerated, somewhat heightened action, with a hero, villain and a person in distress (Musical Comedy Murders of 1940)

     

    HOW MANY CHARACTERS DOES IT HAVE?

    Depending on the number of one acts this number may change. In the event there are 5+ one-acts, casts should be kept to a minimum of 2, maximum of 5. Where there are less than 5 one-acts in a given year, then the number that may be cast will increase... anywhere from 2-10. Just realize, the more actors involved the more personal conflicts to work around and that can be frustrating.

    WHAT IS THE LENGTH OF PLAY

    For our purpose you will need to find a play which, when performed, would be approximately 20-30 minutes in length. Anything shorter will not provide you with enough information to do a detailed analysis that I want. Anything more than 30 will cut into the time of other shows. In the event there are less than 5 one acts, the time may be increased to 30-40 minutes per show.

     

     

    STEP 2: PRODUCTION CONSIDERATIONS

    AUDIENCE APPROPRIATE

    Since this is educational theatre, please remember your audience. As already stated, directing is NOT for you, but for the audience. Take into consideration the following things:

                            IS THE SCRIPT.....

    1. Age appropriate........(teen audience during the day and adult audience at night)
    2. School appropriate...(profanity, violence, sexual innuendoes, ethnic slurs)…. Refer to the Parkway Ratings Guide
    3. Too controversial for PCH? for Chesterfield, MO? Consider the social and political issues
    4. Thought provoking, interesting and entertaining (is it just fluff or does it have a meaning)
    5. Challenging enough for you for this class!!!!

                           

    DON’T select a play that requires major editing or rewriting. Legally you are at risk. You have an ethical responsibility to the playwright. If you feel a great deal of cutting or rewriting is necessary, then find another script.

    ADAPTABILITY TO SPACE / BUDGET

    Not all plays are suited for certain types of acting spaces. Large cast shows are not good for arenas, whereas, smaller plays work better in arenas. The theater at PCH is a thrust stage, with   seating on three sides. Although you shouldn’t be thinking about blocking at this point, you should remain alert about the adaptability of the script to the thrust stage. ie: site lines, size of stage and house, and type / size of necessary set pieces. Remember that space is also limited backstage, which could cause a problem with storing your set pieces. Can you handle the necessary movement that is required in the script and adapt it to the THRUST stage?   This includes period movement, fight scenes, dances and so on.

    TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS

    The one acts will be performed ‘repertory’ style which means they perform one after another. Therefore, there will be general lighting set for all the one acts which will NOT change. However, you will be allowed 1-2 specials (specific lights, usually a Source 4) to create special lighting effects for your show only. There is no flyspace, little backstage, limited or no wood to build anything, and hardly any budget to buy tech support. Take all of this into consideration. Remember to account for the number of different locations / sets and any special effects needed.

    SCRIPT QUALITY

    Plays can be deep with meaning or full of fluff. Ask yourself if the play is even worth doing. Will your audience remember its themes and ideas or will they leave saying, “What was that?” Think about the play’s subject matter in terms of what it has to say; its themes and if it relates to today or not. Is it timeless? Is it universal?

    PERSONAL CHOICE

    Once you have narrowed it down and chosen a few to look at, think about what interests YOU. Although directing is NOT about you.... please remember once you choose a script there is no turning back. You are committed to the script until the end, so don’t choose something which you hate. You can’t expect to get others interested in the production unless you are genuinely excited yourself.

     

    STEP 3: FILL OUT APPLICATION FOR SUBMISSION

    Fill out an application for submission. Submit your 1st, 2nd, 3rd choice ONE ACT application   1-Act Submission Application  Turn in the scripts for all 3 choices the first day of class. I will read the first play and if it works, I won’t need to move on to the 2nd choice. However, if I have reservations, I will read your second choice and so on. 

     

    other resources:
    Parkway Theatre Ratings Rubric