Gloucester Stage will hold the first Young Playwrights Festival on Tuesday, September 19 at 7:30 PM!

The Young Playwrights Festival is for emerging playwrights 18 and under. Gloucester Stage is holding open submissions until Friday, August 18 for young writers to submit their work. From those submissions, we will choose plays to be produced here at Gloucester Stage through the joint talents of our Youth Acting Workshop and Apprentice program.

No experience writing plays? No problem! We want to help you get started with our Play Writing Tips & Tricks tab, featuring advice on playwriting from our Education Apprentice Annika Schultz. She will also be holding a free Young Playwrights Masterclass on Wednesday, July 26 from 9:00 – 11:00 AM! Come join us!

Check our Submit Your Play Here! Tab for a full list of submission guidelines.

Questions? Contact Heidi Dallin at 978-283-6688 or 978-281-4099 for more information.

Advice for Young Playwrights:

This is a ten minute play, not a ten-minute scene; a complete story should be told with a beginning, middle, and end.
The general structure of a ten minute play is exposition (setting the stage for the story), conflict (what’s the problem in the story?), complication (why can’t the problem be solved?), climax (most exciting, turning point of story—how the problem is or isn’t solved), resolution (ending, and how everything is tied together, whether characters get what they want or not.) Example: In Hercules, we see the gods and Mt. Olympus, Hades’ interruption of the party introduces the conflict, Hercules being made mortal is the first complication (though there can be many in a longer story like this!), the climax is Hercules swimming in the pool at the Underworld, and the resolution is him choosing to remain mortal.

Step into conflict as soon as possible.Ten minutes is not a long time to tell a story—get to the point and grab the audience’s attention from the start. Example: Mulan begins with the Huns attacking the great wall of China. Before exposition is given, we’re told what the problem in the story is.
Show, don’t tell. Don’t have a character say “I’m sad”. Have the character show the audience that they’re sad. Example: In Cinderella, Cinderella doesn’t tell people that she’s sad when she can’t go to the ball; instead, she starts crying to show that she’s sad.

Characters should be driven by a goal. What do they want to accomplish? Do they succeed or fail? Whatever happens, how does it affect them? This goal may on the surface seem specific to the character, but also should be one all people can relate to.
Example: In Finding Nemo, Marlin’s goal is to find his son, Nemo, and everything he does in the movie is to meet this goal. Universally, Marlin wants a family.

On the note of characters—interesting characters change over the course of a story! How do the events of the story affect the character? Do they make the character a better person?
Example: In The Lion King, Simba starts out as a spunky cub, becomes a scared slacker, but ultimately becomes a brave king.

Interesting characters have good and bad traits. An unsympathetic villain or a perfect hero is boring. Example: In Tangled, Flynn Rider (along with Rapunzel) is the hero of the story, but he’s also a roguish thief.

Breaking away from expectations creates energy, either serious or funny. For example, when adding eggs to a cake mix, we would expect a person to break the eggs open first. However, in Sleeping Beauty, adding eggs becomes humorous as the fairy folds them in whole, without cracking them.

Get words on the page no matter what! Even if you think it isn’t your best work, keep writing!

Happy writing, playwrights! We can’t wait to read your play! — Annika Schultz, 2017 Education Apprentice

2017 Young Playwrights Festival Submission Guidelines

Theme Friendships and Followers: Technology and social media’s impact on relationships
Length: 1500-2000 words
# of Roles/Characters: Maximum 4
# of Setting/Locations: Maximum 1

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