Have you ever wanted to put on a play but felt like it’s just too tricky to know where to start? Love drama but don’t know how to make the whole thing up yourself?
It can seem like a big task but Laura Bates has worked out some simple steps you can follow to get started!
Choose a Story
You can make up a story yourself or choose a classic story from your favourite book or a famous tale – anything that catches your imagination. Try to start with something not too complicated (the whole Harry Potter series might be a bit too much for a first attempt!!)
One great idea is to pick a traditional story and then change it around a bit – what about a Sleeping Beauty where it’s the Prince who is cursed and the Princess who fights through the brambles to save him, or a funny ending where the things don’t quite go to plan as they do in the original?
Pick 5 Important Moments
Choose the most important things that happen in your chosen story to give it its basic storyline – as if you were giving a friend the summarised version of what happens.
-A baby prince is born and everybody in the castle celebrates.
– The wicked fairy curses the prince at his christening.
– At the age of 21, the Prince pricks his finger on an enchanted arrow while hunting.
– The Prince and all the castle and subjects fall into a deep sleep for many years.
– A brave Princess rides by on her horse and hacks her way into the castle to wake the Prince.
Create a Frozen Picture of each Moment
Think of showing your audience a still photograph of each one of your important moments – who would be standing where, how can you make it look striking and dramatic? Here are some top tips:
-Use different heights and poses to make the picture more interesting – one person could be reaching up high and another might be crouched on the ground.
-Remember that you can create objects in your image too – think of making a human staircase or using a human tower to show the heights of the castle!
-Just standing in the right place isn’t enough to show your audience what’s going on – use facial expressions to really show what each character is thinking. In the tableau around the new-born baby, for example, the wicked fairy might be lurking at the back, looking devious and plotting her mischief!
Add Speech to Each Picture
For each of your important moments, choose a few key lines to bring the story to life. These could be lines of dialogue, showing what the characters are thinking and feeling, or a sentence spoken by a narrator to explain to the audience what is going on in the scene. Share these out evenly so everybody gets to say some lines. Remember, the narrator doesn’t have to be the same person all the way through the play. You can even use simple costumes like hats or scarves to show who the main characters are – this way the person playing the part doesn’t have to be the same in every scene!
Make your Pictures Move!
Now for the fun part! Add in a few actions to bring each picture to life. They can be simple, repeated movements that play over and over again to make the moment stick vividly in the audience’s mind. Or perhaps a string of different movements to show the different events that happen one after another in that scene.
Finally, allow the movement at the end of each scene to blend into the beginning of the next picture. You can use all sorts of exciting effects for these transitions, from slow-motion transformations between characters to sudden changes of height and position for a dramatic change. Let your imagination run wild!
Once you’ve completed these 5 simple steps, put it all together and you’ll find that your play has taken shape as if by magic! Now you can add in any extra dialogue or moments you think are necessary to polish it off. Adding in some good music can help to bring out the tension or excitement of key moments too – you could always include some songs or take advantage of any musical instruments you know how to play.
Once your play is polished to perfection, you’re ready to make your own tickets and programmes and present your performance to your family and friends.
Laura Bates is the founder of the Everyday Sexism Project