inspiration, NPD, Theater, Writing Tips

Do I Need a Star?

The Need for Stars?    “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” – Steve Martin   Writing a play and then staying the course to see it produced is a daunting task. It requires tremendous focus and 100% dedication to each step in the developmental process.  Once...

inspiration, NPD, Writing Tips

Make Submissions Easy

‘Tis the (Submission) Season   Ah, the coolness of the air, the crisp sound of the leaves rustling underfoot. It’s the time of non-profit galas galore and Christmas party networking. For playwrights and librettists, it’s also the season of submissions. I’m...

Dramaturgy, Theater, Writing Tips

Story vs. Plot

Where in the Story Does Your Plot Start?   A discussion about the difference between plot vs. story is anything but an academic question. Instead, like most talks about structure, how a plot is designed defines how the audience experiences the story. An early...

Do I Need a Star?

The Need for Stars?    “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” – Steve Martin   Writing a play and then staying the course to see it produced is a daunting task. It requires tremendous focus and 100% dedication to each step in the developmental process.  Once you think your play “works,” the next step is to have a staged reading to introduce it to the public, either in NYC or elsewhere. A reading is the step before a workshop or a production.  So if a staged reading is the step before a workshop or production, what is our goal for the staged reading? Getting people to see the...

Make Submissions Easy

‘Tis the (Submission) Season   Ah, the coolness of the air, the crisp sound of the leaves rustling underfoot. It’s the time of non-profit galas galore and Christmas party networking. For playwrights and librettists, it’s also the season of submissions. I’m sorry to say that some of the major submission opportunities have already passed (the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, the Richard Rodgers Award, the Jonathan Larson Grant, and Sundance Theatre Lab, for instance). If you didn’t apply this year, there’s always next year. However, there is still time for some other major festivals,...

5 Top Takeaways from the “How to Write a Musical” Workshop

The World & The Want   Yesterday I taught my favorite workshop, the “How to Write a Musical That Works” Workshop through Theater Resources Unlimited (TRU) in NYC. Along with the Executive Director Bob Ost and a stellar panel composed of Dramaturg/Producer Ken Cerniglia (Disney Theatricals, Hadestown), Tony Award winning Director/Lyricist Richard Maltby Jr. (Ain’t Misbehavin’, Fosse, Big, Miss Saigon), Kleban and Larsen Award winning Librettist and Lyricist Cheryl Davis (Barnstormer, Maid’s Door) and former Artistic Coordinator of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop,...

Pitching Your Show to Producers: The Elevator Pitch

Pitching Your Show to Producers   Learning to pitch your show to potential producers is a skill set that can be developed like any other skill set. The secret is in learning to see your show from the producer’s perspective. Recently I was the pitching coach for eight writers in Theater Resources Unlimited’s (TRU) Pitching Workshop, part of the TRU Writer/Producer Speed Date. The event is an intense experience, where twelve writers pitch to eleven producers within one hour. Like regular speed dating, you’ve got approximately seven seconds to make a great impression and two minutes to...

Breaking Up With Aristotle: Alternate Plot Structures

To Aristotle With Love: We’re Done   So many contemporary playwrights claim to have “broken up” with Aristotle.   As in, “Ari, we love you and all, but you’re so old school. We’re done.”   The energy of the “action plot,” where a protagonist has a goal and takes action to obtain that goal, is the plot of Aristotelian tragedy, and the most common organizing principal used when plotting.   Whether structured as an episodic early point of attack plot or crafted as a climactic late point of attack plot, it’s still following an active protagonist through his idealized “want” to...

Story vs. Plot

Where in the Story Does Your Plot Start?   A discussion about the difference between plot vs. story is anything but an academic question. Instead, like most talks about structure, how a plot is designed defines how the audience experiences the story. An early point of attack gives you the musical Les Mis, where you see the epic story in its totality play out in front of the audience. There is little or no need for exposition, since the audience sees every important moment play out in front of their eyes. A late point of attack gives you Oedipus Rex or just about any contemporary...

Writing Active Dialogue

Let's Get Some Action Going   Have you ever been reading a script when the action suddenly felt clunky, heavy-handed or, even worse, stopped mid-scene? Probably it was the result of poor dialogue. Like everything else on stage, dialogue must push the story forward and reveal character, plot points and exposition on stage. When inexpertly done, the action drops dead on its feet. Poor dialogue makes the audience disconnect, makes the plot unbelievable and results in actors overreaching in their attempts to make their character come to life. It’s the worst.   The Rehearsal Process...

Top 5 Reasons to Put a Dramaturg on the Creative Team

What if I told you there was a way to jumpstart your NPD process at a fraction of the cost of a staged reading? There is a way – a standard protocol that’s used by almost every serious producer and significant regional theater out there, including NYMF, Disney Theatrical Group, Davenport Theatrical Productions and many others. So what is that “secret sauce”? They all put a dramaturg on their creative team.  And so should you.   What is a Dramaturg?   I am a dramaturg. I am typically that smart person on the creative team whom no one is sure exactly what I do because I seem to be...

How to Get to Broadway in 3 [Not So Easy] Steps

Still Flying After the TONYs?   How many of you are still flying high after the 2019 TONY Awards ceremony? The encouragement to all performers to continue the work, to celebrate our diversity, and the overall pure celebration of this art form in general and our NY Theater community specifically was so clearly demonstrated and felt. I want to hold on to this positivity and feeling of limitless potential - especially when life clearly wants to show me the opposite. Who here wants to feel that you too can get to Broadway? How do we – we, the little people sludging through the theater...

The Need for Creative Producers

Why I'm a Creative Producer   On May 13, 2013, in a speech at the Theater Communications Group (TCG) Gala, Emily Mann, longtime Artistic Director of the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ, stated that the nonprofit movement was started because the commercial theater was “destroying theater as an art form.” What?? This was an odd statement for Ms. Mann to make, having just received an honorary Tony award for the McCarter Theatre for its contribution to the vital function in the health of American theater, and having VANYA & SONYA & MASHA & SPIKE – developed at the McCarter...