The Words on the Page

September Reads

Thanks to the Internet, digital publications, and inexpensive self-publication options, the landscape of theatre is changing. While companies like Samuel French and Dramatic Publishing maintain strict submission standards, there are countless companies with open submission policies. On top of that, anyone can launch a website and put their work online. Throughout September, I will be looking at scripts from a variety of writers that are available for free via the internet.

First I will be looking at Union Square Incident, a short play by Warren Leight that premiered in November 2016 as part of 24 Hour Plays on Broadway. It is a political piece featuring a detention center somewhere in NYC and was written in less than 24 hours. Perhaps best known for his work helming multiple seasons of SVU, Leight won teh Tony Award for Side Man and has written extensively for television and for the stage. Union Square Incident was published online by the Arts Integrity Initiative shortly following its premiere.

Don Zolidis is a prolific playwright especially known for his plays for young people. According to his website, he has 97 published plays that have been produced over 10,000 times and in 61 countries. Many of his scripts are available via Playscript, Inc. Their website offers play previews, which can include up to 90% of a play, and each month that place the complete texts of twenty scripts in their Free Reads Corner. Zolidis's one act That's Not How I Remember It, which has had over 100 productions at high schools throughout the country, is one of the current selections. It centers on a mother and father who have completely different stories of how they met. Charles L. Mee uses a collage-like style of playwriting where he radically reconstructs earlier texts. A Harvard University grad, he moved to NYC in the 1960s and became part of the eclectic off-off-Broadway scene. He puts the full text of all of his works on his website and allows people to download and read them for free. The Mail Order Bride was inspired by Moliere's The Imaginary Invalid and tells the story of an older man convinced that he can purchase youth through diet, exercise, and a marriage to a much younger woman. A History of Paper is a 2016 BBC radio drama about a man who goes through a cardboard box filled with paper. Each one he pulls out holds a memory. Together, they tell the story of a great love. Oliver Emanuel is a playwright based in Scotland who writes extensively for BBC radio. BBC hosts selected scripts from across their programming in their online script library.

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Writing for film, television, and the stage is, in my opinion, one of the most difficult - and most rewarding - art forms. The language needs to be visual and evocative as each script must achieve two important tasks...
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