Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Advice for young playwrights, Part 6

The final installment of our advice series comes from playwright/teacher/NJYPFestival script reader, Kelby Siddons. Enjoy!

What makes a strong play?

At least two of the following, usually all three: compelling characters, strong structure, poetic language and/or action.

What types of characters do you like to write?

I like to write characters in a state of becoming, which leads me to teen characters who are smart, funny, caring, and driven but have doubts, (in)experiences, and relationships that challenge them.

What do you look for when choosing a play to work on?

As a director, I look for a play that fascinates and rewards me, and by extension, the audience. Sometimes the reward is big laughs, sometimes it's important, unresolved questions. I'll always gravitate more towards the play that gives me both those things.

Please describe the best experience that you had working on a play.

I directed an ensemble in Shakespeare's As You Like It, and it was wonderful because of how clearly complicated things become and the fact that each actor had an integral role to play in all those comic complications. In terms of structure, Shakespeare is the ultimate to borrow from.

Please describe the worst experience that you had working on a play.

As a Kangaroo in  Peter Pan, I was completely expendable. To paraphrase Jose Rivera, write parts that actors want to play.

What advice would you give to a young playwright currently working on a new play?

Ask yourself where the Fear and Love are in your play and your characters' lives. If you have one without the other, there's no conflict. Drama is created when these two dance.

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