Verbatim Theatre Lesson 6: Writing for the stage

Task 1

In the very first lesson on Verbatim Theatre you wrote a pitch for your ideas and answered the question: Why would an audience be interested in coming to see this performance? What will they learn from it?

Review your material and what you have written already. Can you still answer these two questions with the material you have so far? What do you need to add, develop or change? Do you need to do any more research? Do you need to go back to your interviewees for clarification on anything? Research doesn’t stop at the beginning of the writing process. You must continue to conduct, refine and develop your research throughout the writing and editing process.

Task 2

Watch this video and then answer the questions:

  1. Why can having limits and boundaries on your writing be helpful?
  2. How can you use sound and lighting to help your writing?
  3. Why should you consider the space the performance will take place in when you are writing it?
  4. Why is it worth not giving the space the performance will take place in any thought at all?
  5. Why are stage directions really important in your dialogue?

Task 3

Review what you have written so far for your play. Let’s add some limits and boundaries to what you are writing. Here are some suggestions for what you could do, but you should choose for yourself and think of some of your own.

  1. No more than 5 characters in your play. Placing a limit on your characters means that you have more time to focus on the development of those characters rather than trying to write dialogue and action for a wide range of characters.
  2. Each scene must take place in a different location to the scene before it (for example, scene 1 can take place in the kitchen and scene 2 takes place in a cafe). You can return to any previous location you’ve used before.
  3. You can only have 5 locations in the whole play. This will make your scene easier to perform and produce. It’ll also be less to write when introducing each location as the audience will be familiar with them.
  4. The set must be described in the stage directions at the start of every scene. This can be a few sentences to describe the set on stage. Even if you return to a previously used set, things will have changed, so make sure you write about them.
  5. Add stage directions for the actors. Make it clear to any future actor and/or director how you would like the dialogue spoken or how you would like the actors to use the set, props or space on stage.

Task 4

Let’s continue to wrote some of the play by going on to write up the Rising Action scenes.

If you need a reminder of what happens in the Rising Action, then watch this video:

Remember throughout the rising action sequence, the tension and sense of suspense needs to rise until the climax.