Manhattan Rep Cultivating Amazing Theatre in the Heart of Times Square!
#2 - Playwriting advice from one of the World's Best "Tech" Podcasters! - Jan. 2, 2017
I have been following Allison Sheridan and her Nosillacast Mac Podcast for years now. I also had the opportunity to submit a few audio software reviews for her podcast too. In my humble opinion, Allison is one of the best tech podcasters on this planet. And why? Because she is truly PASSIONATE about what she does, AND she has created a “MAGICAL QUESTION” that all the audio reviews submitted to her podcast must, hopefully, answer. Allison’s PASSION for tech and this “Magical Question” keeps her podcast exciting, focused, directed and so informative, thus making The Nosillacast one of the best tech podcasts around.
So what is her “Magical Question” that all must answer when submitting an audio software review?
"What is the problem that needs to be solved?"
Now, how can you apply Allison’s podcast “principles” to your playwriting?
If you were to simply integrate "incredible passion,” and this profoundly simple question: "What is the problem that needs to be solved?" into your playwriting toolkit, your playwriting would rock!
When you are truly passionate, it resonates in your work, and in who you are. It makes you and your work interesting, exciting. Now I don't have a recipe for passion, (if I did I would be a millionaire,) but I do know that if you are not passionate about the play you are writing, get passionate about it now, or just stop writing it. Find something new that "screams" to be written by you, and write that!
PASSION for your story will propel you to new heights of excellence!
In 2003, while taking my 400 hour Yoga teacher training, I developed crazy PTSD, and I experienced what some might call a psychotic break FROM DOING YOGA, or, to better describe it, from the lost memory and trauma that was released from my body by doing yoga! My body would shake unexpectedly and I experienced random old emotions emanating from my muscles, especially the muscles of my hips. Sometimes my hips would just cramp up and I wouldn’t be able to walk. I was so scared and so confused that I started to video myself and my process of trying to cure myself of this crippling affliction. I thought if I could tell the story after I was cured, as a play or a movie, I would be able to help others with this type of problem. This empowered me to find a cure. Accountability to some future audience. Wild, huh?
So I passionately went about finding a cure, filming yoga sessions, all types of bodywork sessions, video diaries, and even psychotherapy sessions. And in three crazy years, I found a way to cure the PTSD and I “unbroke” my psychotic break.
It was a miracle.
And then I set about writing the play: THE PEOPLE IN MY HIPS, and I have never been more passionate in my life about crafting and creating a play. The hope of telling this story someday, helped me cure myself. So this story HAD TO BE TOLD! I integrated real video footage of my PTSD journey into the show and I was frightfully honest about all I experienced over my three year journey. And I told the story with a passion I have never known before. The story was raw, scary, real, and sometimes, funny too.
And I received AMAZING REVIEWS, and an amazing deeply personal response from the audience.
I was propelled by my passion. And I created something important and unique.
Very few playwrights I have worked with over the years are truly passionate. (Maybe one in 20.) But if you can find true passion in your work, you are 90% there. It is the power that will propel you to greatness.
So what about this “Magical Question” from the profoundly passionate Allison Sheridan?
"What is the problem that needs to be solved?"
Having "the problem that needs to be solved" show up in your play in the first 1 to 2 minutes will also propel your play and make it COMPELLING. In the case of THE PEOPLE IN MY HIPS, the audience saw the problem at the start, my insane shaking and emotion (that as an actor I became very good at recreating,) and the audience saw my fear and my courage in seeking a cure. In my dating comedy, The Match Game, the main character is on a blind date, and within 30 seconds of the play starting, his blind date beats him up and leaves him unconscious in a bar. The problem is clear here. He needs to find a NICE woman, and that propels the play, for we clearly understand the "problem that needs to be solved."
Does the play you are working on now start with “a problem that needs to be solved?."
Or does it do back story and set up the characters and the social etiquette of the time …..Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
OOOPS! Sorry… Bored myself to sleep!
But can you understand what I am writing about here?
If you have a compelling "problem that needs to be solved" fueled by a passionate reason or desire to tell the story, you will create a great play!
A TRULY GREAT PLAY!
So borrow some inspiration and advice from one of the best podcasters on this planet, the super passionate Allison Sheridan of The Nosillacast Mac Podcast, and go and write an awesome play!
PS. Here is a link to Allison's Podcast on ITUNES.