Thursday, May 2, 2013

How to Write a Really Bad Play

Since I'm currently a judge in a one-act play contest, I don't want to say too much about the plays I'm reading.  But I have seen enough to know how to write a really bad play. 

And I'm passing that advice on to you, dear reader!

  • Make sure your script contains NO comedy whatsoever - nothing the least bit funny, or if something almost-funny sneaks in, make it very predictable and stupid.

  • Put a homeless man in it so the audience has someone to feel sorry for.

  • Set the play at Christmas or in a foxhole during a war or in an abortion clinic.  Or better yet, at a makeshift abortion clinic in a foxhole on Christmas Eve.

  • Handle exposition awkwardly.  For example, in the first few lines, have one of the characters say,  "Remember when that meteorite hit our house and you bravely struggled to pull me out and save our four children and the reporter from the liberal paper made fun of you because you were Christian and -"

  • Give someone cancer or write an old and dying character so the audience has someone to feel sorry for.  Better yet, write in an old homeless man dying of cancer who stumbles into the foxhole on Christmas Eve and whose first monologue recalls the abortion he witnessed sixty years prior.  Then send in Santa Claus for the happy ending when the homeless man dies and goes to heaven.

  • Submitting your play to a Christian playwriting contest?  Use lots and lots and lots of gratuitous f-bombs and s-bombs.  Make David Mamet look like Walt Disney.

  • There is no such thing as character development.  There is no such thing as depth of character.  There is no such thing as a compelling plot.

  • There is no such thing as subtlety.  The audience must be hit over the head to get your point.

  • Whatever you do, don't make any of your dialogue the least bit literary or poetical or uplifting.  Don't read other plays and get ideas about innovative staging or structure.  Don't take any risks.

Got it?  Now get writing!


Mark S. Abeln said...

I try to put something funny into everything I write, but my humor is so dry no one gets it.

Mark S. Abeln said...

See? It happened again.

Ink said...

1. What contest is this?
2. Is it open next year too? (I'd love to try my hand at play-writing.)

Anonymous said...

I'll keep these in mind for the next time I write something for a one acts event again. :P

Thanks for the heads up Kevin =)


Joey Higgins said...

Several of these remind me of the musical, "Billy Elliot."

Parts of the musical were really sad, but, it was sort of a, "you have cancer sad," where it was just low hanging fruit.