CBSE Class 12 Introduction to the Writing of Drama

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Lesson 4 Writing of Drama

The stage is a magical place. Live actors and a live audience make for an immediacy no other art of the written word can duplicate. The ancient Greeks and Romans believed thatthe dramatic poet had the power and the duty to teach and to please and it's a tradition that lives on to this day. Sounds great. But how do you do it? Before your play can teach and please anyone, you have to write it, rewrite it (probably  over and over again.) It can be a long road and good playwrights typically have patienceand perseverance to spare.

Plays come in all shapes and sizes. Here are the most common ones: Ten-minute plays have become very popular in recent years. A good ten-minute play is not a sketch or an extended gag, but rather a complete, compact play, with a beginning, middle and end. It typically takes place in one scene and runs no more than ten pages. One-acts can run anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour or more. While technically, the one-act gets its name from having only one act (however long that might be), it's more commonly thought of as a play that isn't long enough to constitute a full evening.

Arguably the most popular length for one-acts is around a half-hour. A good one-act focuses on one main action or problem; there's not time to get into complicated layers of plot. And for practical reasons, it's a good idea to keep the play to one set and as few scenes as possible. The moral of the story is to write your one-act with the most minimal set and technical demands possible.

Full-length plays are also called evening-length plays. How long is that? Anywhere from around seventy or eighty minutes and up. These days, with TV shrinking our attention spans, you'd better have a very good reason to keep an audience in the theater for much longer than two hours. And it's always a good idea to write your play so that it can be produced, if necessary, with minimal set and technical requirements.

Musicals can run the gamut in length from ten minutes (though these are rare, because it's not very cost effective to assemble a band to play for only ten minutes) to three hours. Again, the middle ground - somewhere between ninety minutes and two hours, is probably the one to shoot for.

1. _________ plays have become very popular in recent years. It typically takes place in _________ and runs no more than ten pages.

2. One-acts can run anywhere from _______________ to an hour or more. Arguably the most popular length for one-acts is around a _________.

3. Full-length plays are also called ______________ plays, they can be from around _______ or ______ minutes and up.

4. Musicals can run the gamut in length from ______ minutes to _____ hours. Again, the middle ground - somewhere between _______minutes and two hours. There is a similarity between plays and musical scores. Like the musical score, the printed play is a manual or a blueprint for performance. Yet, every musical score does not get performed, the same holds good for plays as well. All the plays that are written do not get enacted on the stage or 'read


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