Stories are the way we present ourselves: what we’ve experienced; what we’ve imagined; what we find funny; what we find sad; what we dream about; what we’ve been told that we think is worth repeating.
There isn’t a day that goes by that we haven’t told a story to someone or told one to ourselves.
A play is simply the telling of that story as we see it in our mind’s eye, without narration, but through the actions and words of the individuals and creatures involved.
Pendragon’s Young Playwrights is asking Middle and High School students to tell a story in the form of a one-act play.
Here are the guidelines for both Middle and High School writers:
• Length: The play should be between 10 and 15 minutes in length (the best way to determine this is to read the completed work aloud, preferably with another person; we speak at a different rate than when we read in silence).
• Actors and Characters: The play should require no more than 4 actors. You may have more than 4 characters, but that will require some actors playing more than one character. Keep that in mind as you write.
• Format: You must write the play in the format that will be supplied to you and your teachers (format is the style in which you present characters’ names, present dialogue, present stage directions, font size, etc.)
• Themes and Subjects: There is no restriction on themes or subjects this year. But writers might consider the theme of connection and disconnection, which has become so relevant during the pandemic; also, since the plays will be presented online rather than in-person, you might consider stories that take place in a Zoom conference, or on Facetime, or at a Go-To-Meeting. There have already been a couple of professional plays that make use of this new norm (e.g. What Do We Need to Talk About?, by Richard Nelson).
• Narrators and Multiple Scenes: The following are strong recommendations and not restrictions –
A) Avoid narrators, if at all possible. A narrator tells the story, but a play is intended to have the story come alive before our eyes. If you must have a narrator, see if it can be one of the characters in your story, rather than a detached observer.
B) In a short play, multiple scenes break up the flow of the story. Most one-act plays take place in one setting, in real time. If you intend to have multiple scenes, consider if they can all take place in the same location, at different times. If they must take place in multiple locations, can it be done on a set that allows the characters to move fluidly from one location to the other without the need for a blackout or scene change (which wastes valuable story-time in a brief play)?
• Submission Date: Plays must be submitted, digitally, no later than April 9, 202l. Instructions on where to submit the play will be provided.
• Judging: All plays will be read by a panel of judges chosen by Pendragon Theatre. A winner and a runner-up will be chosen from the Middle School submissions, and a winner and a runner-up will be chosen from the High School submissions. These four will receive online productions, which will be presented in May, at a date yet to be announced.