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Thread: Full length Stage Play??

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Ameasha's Avatar
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    Question Full length Stage Play??

    What constitutes a full length stage play? I'm writing one for one hour with no intermissions. How many acts should it have? Thanks.
    Ameasha

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    Pumped Up Kicks AdamH's Avatar
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    Hey Ameasha,

    Firstly, welcome to AW!


    Now to answer your question, a full length stage play is usually broken down into three different act, but you can get away with two. But as a general rule, one page of dialogue equals one minute of stage time. So you'd need about 60 pages, give or take a few pages depending on how much action takes place between the dialogue (i.e. long silences, or a character is snooping around in a dark room for a light switch...stuff like that).

    Also, check out this thread. It has some useful tidbits too.

    Hope that helped!
    hAunted (working title)



  3. #3
    The Surreal Thing AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    I saw your question earlier--before the plea for responses--but didn't say anything because I didn't know for sure.

    I see about 8 plays a year, for the last 15 years or so. It's a rare one that has no intermission, and while I can't bring every single play to mind (especially the ones I'm valiently struggling to forget), all the plays I can remember as having no intermission also had no separate acts. They were oddly-structured, either gimmicky (audience interaction, or variable plots depending on an un-plannable event like the role of a die) or super-long one-acts with no changes in scene or jumps in time.

    I don't consider myself well-versed in more edgy or experimental theatre at all, so if that's the appropriate venue for what you're working on, I disqualify myself. Perhaps they do no-intermission plays with defined acts all the time.

    Is there a regional theatre or a rep company where you live? I would think that a local director might know heaps more than I do. (I'm sure the local directors here do.)

    Anyway, nice to meet you. The plays board moves v-e-r-y slowly, as you'll see, but I'm not the only one who peeps in hoping for a new message.

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    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Ameasha's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Thanks

    Thanks. This is my first stage play that I was ask to write for production in India. Does a stage play ever go passed the third act?
    Ameasha

  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW
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    acts?

    Hi

    You need to find a structure that suits your play, I have written plays that are, one, two and three acts. Usually an intermission comes after the second act but acts are a way of breaking down the plot and shape of a play for the writer and director/actors, audiences are rarely aware or interested in the number of acts in a play. Structure for plays are less rigid than in screenwriting and there are no fixed rules, three acts are traditional for full length plays but I follow whatever structure seems natural for my story. If you have a director attached to the project they will soon tell you at an early draft stage what they see as the best way of moving your story forward, if not, follow your instincts.

  6. #6
    musker vyusher Beyondian's Avatar
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    Full length is typically three acts. Sometimes the director will cut it to two longish acts. The interval (from my experience anyway) is going to be changed to suit the director and the style of the production they are putting on. Longer plays will have two 15 - 20 minute intervals. Your typical Act consists of anywhere from 2-6 scenes. I would suggest going for a 'shorter' full length play (i.e. Don't go for a length that will rival Hamlet) because audiences have relatively short attention spans especially when you don't have Viggo Mortenson or a heck of a lot of CGI to hold their attention. They're going to be a happier and more appreciative audience with a two-two and a half hour play (unless you've got some material that is one-hundred percent guaranteed to blow their minds, that is. If this is the case, then go for it! )
    All in all, the ammount of scenes and Acts is up to you. Anything less than two acts is probably going to be seen as a 'short play', though.
    Hope this helps.

    ETA If you need more info about live theatre, PM me. I've been in a number of shows and have a little experience in the theatre 'world'
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  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW
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    play length

    If you have been asked for a play that lasts an hour, stick to that. I think a good length is 1 hour 30 mins - 1 hr 45 mins with one interval. The first half (pre interval) should be longer than the second half and anything without an interval should not exceed 90 minutes. Two intervals would be very unusual and new plays seem to be coming in under two hours. Is there a reason why you have been asked to write to a 60 minute time frame? I wondered if your play was going to be shown alongside another work? I wouldn't get too worried at a first draft stage, as your script will end up shifting shape and size once it has gone through workshops and readings.

    I don't know about anyone else but as a writer and audience member, I believe less is more!

  8. #8
    musker vyusher Beyondian's Avatar
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    Oops, just realised I didn't read the top post properly. Sorry, Ameasha. I didn't realise you were writing a 1 hour play. In my experience, one act would probably be the average for a hour long play, maybe squeezing to two acts. Commonly, an hour long play is considered a relatively short play. It's above a skit, but below a full three act 1.75-2.5 hr play in length. One act would be fine for one hour.
    Yes... the avatar is not me. It is Audrey Hepburn.

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    A Black and White Man - Pierrot and Red Riding Hood ganging up on me. Notes, research, and a short story so obscure no one understands it.

  9. #9
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Ameasha's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Thank You

    Thank you for your responses, input and advice. I belong to a creative writing group and a member asked if there were any playwrights in the group. There were no responses so I sent a pm, told him this would be my first, and we talked it over and he sent me the outline. That Sat. we IM each other, he gave me the names of the main three main characters and what they meant. We decided on a title which will probably be changed, and I suggested he leave the characters with me and I would beef and flesh them out. He did and when I was finished I sent them to him, he was ' absolutely impressed ', his words, and he told me I had full rein. He is sending me the importand info for my records by snail mail. I'm excited, but I 'm logically.
    Ameasha

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    The Peacock Next Door Cat Scratch's Avatar
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    Hi Ameasha,

    Sounds like you're off to a good start. I'm a produced playwright with a theatre degree and experience in directing, designing, and acting in countless productions. Any other questions feel free to PM me!

    --Cat Scratch

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