Saturday, January 5, 2013

Advice to young playwrights, Part 5

Continuing our advice series with comments from playwright and NJYPFestival script reader, Kirk Woodward. Enjoy!

What makes a strong play?

For me the most important element of a strong play is a good idea. A solid idea makes everything else possible. A weak idea means the writer is constantly playing catch-up.

What types of characters do you like to write?

The answer to this question varies with the play, of course, but I like characters with spunk. Also, as a male playwright I set myself years ago the challenge of writing at least as many female as male characters, and I like that.

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

I know this comment is terribly subjective, but it has to excite me. There are many excellent plays that will do better if someone else writes them or directs them, because they don’t stir my imagination.

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

I once wrote the entire score for a musical for children during one working day, while sitting at my desk. (Didn’t get much other work done, however.) That was fun!

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

Fairly typical: I worked a long time on a draft of a play, and when I finished it I re-read it and realized it was a total bomb from beginning to end. NOTE: if that happens, you have to either rewrite it entirely, or discard it. Don’t try to breathe life into a dead play. You’ll write others. If you don’t like it, no one else will, that’s for sure.

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

Don’t listen to advice too much. When it comes down to it, your job is to write. Let other people do the evaluating. Write what you feel you’re called to write.

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