Open Forum

Play You Think Should Exist

  • 1.  Play You Think Should Exist

    Posted 18 days ago

    As a young(er) playwright who also enjoys teaching writing in class, I have a question for all directors:

    What's a play or storyline that doesn't exist that you think should?

    ...or...

    Is there a specific genre you'd like to see more plays fit?

    ...or...

    If you could throw a handful of ingredients (cast requirements/genre/storyline/age level - anything) into a blender to create a play you'd love to direct...what would the ingredients be?



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    Sarah Keene
    Theatre Director
    Duncanville TX
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  • 2.  RE: Play You Think Should Exist

    Posted 17 days ago
    Edited by Ginny Butsch 17 days ago
    Middle School, Musical: Cast 25+, 4+ leads, 4+ Supporting, 7+ Featured

    Sent from my iPhone





  • 3.  RE: Play You Think Should Exist

    Posted 17 days ago
    High school:
    Musical -- cast around 25, at least five leading ladies, many other small featured roles (gender flexible is best), the male lead a baritone instead of a tenor! Something with teenaged characters is good, but not your typical "high school" show.

    Straight play -- cast of at least 10, predominantly female characters. Challenging and meaty roles, minimal objectionable material (sex, swearing, etc.). Think These Shining Lives or Silent Sky, but with bigger casts.

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    Cassy Maxton-Whitacre
    Theatre Department Coordinator
    Fishersville VA
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  • 4.  RE: Play You Think Should Exist

    Posted 17 days ago
    I was inspired by a recent video of two, young children running toward each other and hugging. They looked so happy to see each other. One child appeared caucasian and the other child appeared African-American. Could there be a story about these two? Do they remain friends over time? Do they grow apart? Do their paths cross in some way when they're adults?

    I'm also interested in integrity vs. hypocrisy. Do people sacrifice their principles to keep their jobs, stay in power, avoid being bullied, etc.? Why do people use religion to justify use of force/weapons? Is that what Jesus would do? I'm reminded of a great line from the musical Pippin. Charlemagne says they're going to spread Christianity to the entire world, even if they have to kill every non-believer to do it. Does this sentiment, in some form, still exist?

    Happy writing!





  • 5.  RE: Play You Think Should Exist

    Posted 15 days ago

    I love the image you described in your first paragraph. And the integrity vs. hypocrisy idea as well. 


    Thank you for answering.



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    Sarah Keene
    Theatre Director
    Duncanville TX
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  • 6.  RE: Play You Think Should Exist

    Posted 16 days ago
    Oh wow...this is an exciting thread!

    I am always drawn to a story that is heavy on plot and have vital and important characters who have real stakes. I think high school actors crave meaty roles. Much of the literature that is geared for high school is what I call "over the top characters doing over the top things" in really far out situations. I realize that many people love that stuff. I do not. I want literature. I want a story. I want characters that matter. I don't want comic relief and teenagers running away from zombies or make excuses for why they don't want to be in a play. I also am not fan of the reporting style play either. The play where actors speak lines that feel more like narration than dialogue. I want dialogue that says something that cannot simply be said in any other way. For my tastes, I don't think it is really acting when an actor just basically speaks out loud events or storyline.

    Sorry if this is rather heavy handed, you asked the question :)

    Here are few things I think I would like to see:

    1. Cast size 15-20. Drama. Heavy on the female roles, light on the male roles, but also some "either" roles. Something with compelling characters going through a real struggle. Not the usual melodramatic material we see in many of the plays that are targeted for high school students.
    2. Plays with real characters, not these broadly drawn, over the top tropes I see in so many plays that are being published. I don't want another high school nerd, jock, moody, know-it-all, popular girl, etc.  How about real people with real emotions doing real things, but with a stimulating plot that makes me want to keep watching.
    3. Mystery. Not necessarily about murder or violence. But crime? Intrigue? Suspense? A crime that not only is solved, but teaches us along the way.
    4. A musical with lots of roles for females actors, less male, and roles for non-singing characters. I used to love Anything Goes because you can cast non-singers in leading roles and they are key to the storyline.
    5. Plays that are written so that the character can be played regardless of the gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, age. High school actors are as diverse as the world we live in, write so that I never have to cast someone because the role wasn't written for them. Example, why does Dracula have to be male? That is such a great role, but does the gender matter? What if rather than a spoof it was written with a real character whose gender was not crucial to telling the story.

    I hope you have great fun writing and I wish you all the best on your adventure.

    I'm always looking for a wonderful script to use with my actors. Maybe you'll become my new favorite playwright.

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    John Rutherford
    Groves Performing Arts Company
    W.E. Groves High School
    Beverly Hills MI
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  • 7.  RE: Play You Think Should Exist

    Posted 15 days ago
    No worries at all - this is exactly the kind of answer I was looking for! Thank you. :)

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    Sarah Keene
    Theatre Director
    Duncanville TX
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  • 8.  RE: Play You Think Should Exist

    Posted 14 days ago
    I always agree with @John Rutherford. When it comes to script selection, we share a brain! :-)​

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    Cassy Maxton-Whitacre
    Theatre Department Coordinator
    Fishersville VA
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  • 9.  RE: Play You Think Should Exist

    Posted 15 days ago
    I am with John Rutherford on this one. My students and I read through countless scripts each year, trying to find something that will provide opportunities to dig into a role, to practice performance skills, and to create believable people in believable circumstances onstage. The students want to see characters in scripts that actually speak and think like real people. They need the challenges of sophisticated material to become better actors. This is not to say that everything needs to be heavy. Comedy can provide opportunities as well, as long as there is some substance to the characters and situations, and the script is not a stream of set-ups and punchlines. Last year, one of the advance theater student read a play by a well-known "theater for young people" playwright and remarked, "Does (the playwright) really think that we talk and behave this way?"

    More nuts and bolts requests:
    - cast sizes of between 10 and 20 (plays) and 25-35 (musicals), with roles that are gender-ethnic-race flexible
    - plays and musicals that have a strong, fully integrated ensemble (think Kate Hamill's "Sense and Sensibility"/ "Letters to Sala" or "Once on This Island"/"Pippin")
    - plays and musicals that can be performed on a unit set or in a non-specific location
    - plays and musicals that do not require high tech special effects or spectacle

    Thank you for opening up this discussion.

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    Michael Bergman
    Teacher/Director
    He/Him/His pronouns
    The Potomac School
    McLean, VA
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  • 10.  RE: Play You Think Should Exist

    Posted 14 days ago
    Yes, to the integrated ensemble!! I can't believe I didn't mention Kate Hamill's Sense in my earlier post, but that concept makes it so much easier to cast more people and still give them plenty to do. Other good examples of good ensemble integration and storytelling include Metamorphoses and Dominic Cooke's Arabian Nights.

    ------------------------------
    Cassy Maxton-Whitacre
    Theatre Department Coordinator
    Fishersville VA
    ------------------------------



  • 11.  RE: Play You Think Should Exist

    Posted 14 days ago
    Edited by Nancy Gibson 14 days ago
    Michael,

    We wrote a play about date rape that had an unusual premise.  It focussed on choices and the impact of them.  It also factored in how alcohol and our assumptions can lead us into dark places.  Our audiences ate it up!  After the show we had a volunteer from the Sexual Assault Crisis line there who talked with the audience.  My students met with her various times before performance and learned so much.

    One of the actors, a high school senior who was very popular and partied a lot disclosed during a talkback that he had been at a college party over the weekend.  He told the audience that there was a girl there who was super drunk and he stayed with her until they got her to a safe place.  "I never knew that this was really just, everywhere around me. AND, that it affected more than just the two people involved."  It was a great moment for the cast and myself.

    If you are interested, I can share it with you or anyone else who would like it.


    Title:  Can I Trust You
    Cast size:
    Males: 1 lead, 3 supporting  (and ensemble is up to you)
    Females: 2 leads,  5 supporting (and ensemble is up to you)
    Run time: approx 45 min

    Synopsis:

    When Dani walks in on her older brother with a passed out girl, she is shocked and confused.  As events unfold, she must decide between her loyalty to him or her responsibility to do what is right.  Can I Trust You, was written and performed in 2005 by the students in the Conflict Resolution Class.  Come and see this timely remount of a show that dives into the arena of consent and assault, family and friends and the struggle surrounding accountability when lines are crossed.  Due to the mature content, this show is not suitable for pre-teens.



    Nancy

    ------------------------------
    Nancy Gibson
    Eagle Theater Teacher
    Racine Unified School District
    Racine WI
    ------------------------------



  • 12.  RE: Play You Think Should Exist

    Posted 15 days ago
    Edited by Lawrence Long 15 days ago
    I would love more plays that tackle real, grounded high school age characters in genres like mystery, intrigue, horror, etc. So much of what is written for high school students is a exaggerated take on what we perceive high school life to be like.  We just did Lord of the Flies last year, with one cast all male and one cast all female - I told them that their characters were whatever age they, the actor, was - and we would see how that age would come to not mean anything as the story evolved. It was fascinating to watch the actors become their characters when they were allowed to be more of themselves.  Something like the movie "Brick" for the stage would be amazing.

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    Lawrence Long
    San Mateo CA
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  • 13.  RE: Play You Think Should Exist

    Posted 14 days ago
    I rarely have enough boys to do the majority of published plays. And even then, the boys have the leads and are the protagonists. We need female-heavy plays and musicals where they are the protagonists. 

    --


    Amy Sando
    Official Title
    School or Departments
    Douglas County School District
    School or Department Phone Number

    This message and its contents are confidential. If you received this message in error, do not use or rely upon any information contained in this email.   Instead, please inform the sender and then delete it.





  • 14.  RE: Play You Think Should Exist

    Posted 13 days ago

    Hi Amy,

    I have heard this story over and over.  That is why my company CPA Theatricals focuses on created new plays and musicals featuring many strong female leading roles.   Check out the online, virtual musical THE MYSTERY OF CUSTODIA, THE LAND OF FORGOTTEN TOYS - a Christmas musical (adapted for socially distanced staging) or GIRLHOOD.
    Hope this is helpful.  Love to have ideas for my next project.  



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    Larry Little
    Chicago IL
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  • 15.  RE: Play You Think Should Exist

    Posted 14 days ago
    Great thread.  Thanks for initiating it.  A lot of my thoughts have been expressed, but here's a feeling I've had for a while: I wish there were more viable plays for middle school aged actors that were about a wider array of topics than being "in school." (I'm particularly burned out on plays about actors putting on a play, and I say this with much respect for playwrights who I know are members of this community whose works on the topic I've done with great success with students in the past.  I just think we would do well to open up the kinds of stories students can perform.)  Having characters that are similar ages to the students is great, and surely school-aged characters may, of course, be in school, but school is not the entire world nor is it students' entire lives.  When commenting ON school is the entire point of a script, a lot of times they tip into cliche.

    I also feel like parodies of fairy tales/literature/mythology are somewhat overrepresented in the scripts produced for younger performers.  As John and others pointed out, the characters in these works tend to be a collection of gags more than bona fide characters.

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    Ryan Moore
    Theatre Teacher and Forensics Coach
    Royal Oak MI
    ------------------------------