I’m not a playwright, but I’m trying out this whole National Play Writing Month thing anyway. For those not familiar, it is similar to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), in which participants must write 50,000 words — roughly 175 pages — by the end of November. With NaPlWriMo, participants must write a 75 page script. Apparently 75 pages is considered full length these days.
I haven’t written a “play” since high school, in which I was lucky enough one year to have a temporary theatre teacher who had us write short plays at the beginning of class, based on a prompt, then read them and discuss them. There was some theatre history and acting in there, but mostly it was play-writing and discussion. At the end of the class, we created a showcase with some of the most popular and interesting plays.
Since then, I’ve talked about writing scripts, and I’ve thought about writing scripts, but I haven’t gotten around to it. I did assemble a Best of Craigslist script, at long last, but that’s only 43 pages, including several photos taken from ads. Granted, when I had a couple of people over to read it, it took them an hour and a half, no intermission, so I figure that’s probably long enough for a script of that nature.
The reason I am participating in NaPlWriMo this year is not because I want to expand my horizons and try play-writing, but because several years ago, a friend and I had a brilliant idea for a musical about a burlesque troupe. No, it’s not the same plot as SHINE: A Burlesque Musical, and I’m not going to say “We thought of it first!” because, well, it was only a matter of time until some group decided a musical about a burlesque troupe was a good idea. Ours, of course, has a catch that SHINE did not. I won’t say what that catch is, but there is one.
I’ve also never written/directed a musical before, and again my experience with musicals is limited to high school, in which I played Hope’s mother in Anything Goes. So I’m not sure how to write a script/book for a musical, but since we don’t have much music or any lyrics — and I’m not entirely sure what my partner-in-crime had in mind, although she theoretically has plot and character notes somewhere — I figure I’ll just write the script that comes to mind. It will be a decent outline if nothing else. We can fill in the rest of it later. But I have to get this idea out of my head and on to paper.
So I’m giving NaPlWriMo a shot. Hopefully I finish. So far I’m on track — 5 pages in 2 hours. However, I only have 21 days this month, since a good chunk is taken up with visiting relatives during the Thanksgiving holiday. But at 75 pages, with 21 days, I only need to write 4 pages a day to make it. If I can stay ahead of the curve (HA! wonder how long that’ll last) at 6 pages or so a day, I should be golden.
This is, by the way, possibly one of the worst ways to write a play and I realize that. I’m sure other playwrights deal with time constraints and deadlines, but seriously. I see this much more like an exorcism than play-writing. Then again, that seems to be how many artists handle their work — it’s a good idea that plagues them until they get it out of their skulls and into the world.