Archive for the Category » acting «

Nostalgia… (#12)

Martin Short, (famous actor on SNL, career included dozens of movies) was recently interviewed where he told a charming story. He, Gilda Radner, Paul Shaffer were born (as actors) at ‘Second City’, Toronto.  In the early days, Martin was in a community theatre production of Fortune & Men’s Eyes. The director told the actors that, as the audience came in and took their seats, the actors would be pacing on stage, in a prison setting. In character, wearing only their underwear.

Paul Shaffer, most famous for years with Letterman

 

Fortune & Men’s Eyes

 

Gilda (whom Martin was dating at the time 1972), Paul and some other pals all planned to go see Martin one night. But, as the story goes, the thing Paul Shaffer was really excited about was they would all go for dinner after at the Shakespeare Steakhouse.

So on the night of the performance, Martin’s friends arrived and Paul, upon seeing Martin pacing, moved up the lip the of the stage and whispered, “Martin, Shakespeare  Steakhouse is closed, wink once if Bavarian Seafood makes sense.” 

John Sugarek, actor

 

 

 

This type of crazy thing happens all the time in live theatre. Short’s story brought to mind the time that my husband played Dr. Miranda, (a murderous ex-Nazi) in Death and the Maiden (a part that Ben Kingsley is famous for). Our theatre was so small that it didn’t have a curtain.  Since Dr. Miranda is held hostage and tied up for most of the play, it meant that my husband, John, remained on stage, in character and tied up during intermission. With audience members coming and going.  Actually, he volunteered as there was no logical way to get him untied and offstage. 

During intermission, a trio of white-haired senior ladies came tripping down the aisle and neared the edge of the stage. John (said later) prayed that they were not

Death and the Maiden

Ben Kingsley & Sigourney Weaver

going to speak to him.  They moved as close to him as they could and one of the dear old things winked and said to him, in a stage-whisper, “Psst! Psst! Mister! Do you want us to untie you?” Giggling and twittering they turned and found their seats again. John stayed in character but it was hard not to burst out laughing.

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MY features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months? March: Mystery (and Western) writer, Larry D. Sweazy.  April: World Traveler, Tal Gur. June: mystery author, Manning Wolfe.
                                                                                   
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Black vs White vs Brown ~ A New Ten Minute PLay

    Ethnic groups have polarized and bullied each other for years, out on the street.  Recently, teens have taken to their cell phones and computers to do the same. Blacks against whites against browns. All good kids at their core, but divided by the color of their skin.

#32 in the series of short plays for the classroom.

This series has been very popular, over the years, with teachers and students. Sets, costumes, props are not needed. Most pertain to real life issues for teens so these plays are meant to open a dialogue between teens and their teachers. Or, at the very least, to experience live theatre. 

All ‘G’ rated so no adult content. When profanities are used, as teens do in real life, they are optional and can be easily eliminated. 

Available at www.amazon.com and all other fine book stores.
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    March: Mystery (and Western) writer, Larry D. Sweazy ~~ April: International adventurer, writer, Tal Gur.
                                                                                   
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How To Format A Screenplay

TS.  ‘ACTION drives a screenplay, that and plot.  DIALOGUE drives a stage play so it better be damn good. In my opinion, if your action is good in a screenplay, the dialogue can be mediocre and often is in blockbusters. If your dialogue is crisp and interesting and helps drive the story, you’ve done a better job than most in Hollywood.’ 

While you can buy books and software to do the job for you it’s always good to have a grasp of the general spacing standards. The top, bottom and right margins of a screenplay are 1″. The left margin is 1.5″. The extra half-inch of white space to the left of a script page allows for binding with brads, yet still imparts a feeling of vertical balance of the text on the page. The entire document should be single-spaced.

The very first item on the first page should be the words FADE IN:. Note: the first page is never numbered. Subsequent page numbers appear in the upper right hand corner, 0.5″ from the top of the page, flush right to the margin.

Screenplay Elements

Below is a list of items (with definitions) that make up the screenplay format, along with indenting information. Again, screenplay software will automatically format all these elements, but a screenwriter must have a working knowledge of the definitions to know when to use each one.

Scene Heading
Indent: Left: 0.0″ Right: 0.0″ Width: 6.0″

A scene heading is a one-line description of the location and time of day of a scene, also known as a “slugline.” It should always be in CAPS.

Example: EXT. WRITERS STORE – DAY reveals that the action takes place outside The Writers Store during the daytime.

Subheader
Indent: Left: 0.0″ Right: 0.0″ Width: 6.0″

When a new scene heading is not necessary, but some distinction needs to be made in the action, you can use a subheader. But be sure to use these sparingly, as a script full of subheaders is generally frowned upon. A good example is when there are a series of quick cuts between two locations, you would use the term INTERCUT and the scene locations.

Action
Indent: Left: 0.0″ Right: 0.0″ Width: 6.0″

The narrative description of the events of a scene, written in the present tense. Also less commonly known as direction, visual exposition, blackstuff, description or scene direction.

Remember – only things that can be seen and heard should be included in the action.

Character
Indent: Left: 2.0″ Right: 0.0″ Width: 4.0″

When a character is introduced, his name should be capitalized within the action. For example: The door opens and in walks LIAM, a thirty-something hipster with attitude to spare.

A character’s name is CAPPED and always listed above his lines of dialogue. Minor characters may be listed without names, for example “TAXI DRIVER” or “CUSTOMER.”

Dialogue
Indent: Left: 1.0″ Right: 1.5″ Width: 3.5″

Lines of speech for each character. Dialogue format is used anytime a character is heard speaking, even for off-screen and voice-overs. Normal upper and lower case is used.

Parenthetical
Indent: Left: 1.5″ Right: 2.0″ Width: 2.5″

A parenthetical is direction for the character, that is either attitude or action-oriented. With roots in the playwriting genre, today, parentheticals are used very rarely, and only if absolutely necessary. Why? Two reasons. First, if you need to use a parenthetical to convey what’s going on with your dialogue, then it probably just needs a good re-write. Second, it’s the director’s job to instruct an actor on how to deliver a line, and everyone knows not to encroach on the director’s turf!

Extension
Placed after the character’s name, in parentheses

An abbreviated technical note placed after the character’s name to indicate how the voice will be heard onscreen, for example, if the character is speaking as a voice-over, it would appear as LIAM (V.O.).

Transition
Indent: Left: 4.0″ Right: 0.0″ Width: 2.0″

Transitions are film editing instructions, and generally only appear in a shooting script. Transition verbiage includes:

  • CUT TO:
  • DISSOLVE TO:
  • SMASH CUT:
  • QUICK CUT:
  • FADE TO:

As a spec script writer, you should avoid using a transition unless there is no other way to indicate a story element. For example, you might need to use DISSOLVE TO: to indicate that a large amount of time has passed.

Shot
Indent: Left: 0.0″ Right: 0.0″ Width: 6.0″

A shot tells the reader the focal point within a scene has changed. Like a transition, there’s rarely a time when a spec screenwriter should insert shot directions. Once again, that’s the director’s job. 

Sample of what your page should look like:  [Source: The Writer’s Digest]

 

 

 

other related posts by this blogger:
How To Write a Play
How To Format a Play
How To Format a Novel

 

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?    January: Sue Grafton ~ In Memory
March: Mystery (and Western) writer, Larry D. Sweazy.  April: in60Learning ~ A unique, non-fiction mini-book read in 60 minutes.
                                                                                   
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Chuck Lorre…Vanity Blog (The Big Bang Theory)

writing, blogs, blogger, comedy, Chuck Lorre, iconic televisionChuck Lorre, creator of The Big Bang Theory, (Young Sheldon, Mike & Molly, and Two and a Half Men and numerous movies) has been writing vanity blogs way before the word ‘blog‘ was coined.  If you have a ‘pause’ button on your remote, it’s certainly worth a read. It appears at the very end of each episode, after the credits and ‘Coming next week‘ stuff. 

VANITY CARD #579

“When I was a little boy I was constantly worried about myself and my family being killed by an atom bomb. Air raid drills and hiding in underground shelters were an almost daily part of my young life. (Remove all pens, pencils and sharp objects from your breast pocket, take off your glasses, look away from the window, find a buddy, hold hands, no talking, walk quickly to the basement, get on your knees, place your head against the wall, wait for the all-clear signal, hope the teacher forgets about the arithmetic test you didn’t study for.) Looking back, it was a ridiculously traumatic way to grow up. But like so many awful things, you got used to it. The fear of instant annihilation was just always there, lurking in the background. Until it wasn’t. Somehow, over time, the inevitability of the mushroom cloud simply went away. Wise and prudent men in our country and others, found a better way to exercise their hatred and fear of each other’s social and economic system. Until now. Now the wise and prudent men are no more, and the unthinkable is back on the table. Death and suffering on an unimaginable scale is once again an option. The low drumbeat of existential dread has returned, and I find myself thinking odd thoughts, like: “I hope someone reminds him that he can’t play golf in a Hazmat suit.”

And now, as if his brilliance couldn’t reach higher heights, there’s spin-off show when Sheldon was a kid living in conservative, Bible-belt, Texas. If you love Sheldon in Big Bang, and we all do, you will adore this nerdy little kid (played by Iain Armitage) who’s smarter than anyone in his ‘little kid orb’.  It might take you a show or two to realize the clever, subtle writing in this show when it appears to be so broad and red-neck, but trust me it really is our adored (grown-up) Sheldon as a kid.
My second favorite actor is the Mom, Mary. Played by Zoe Perry you’d swear it was Laurie Metcalf (Sheldon’s grownup Mom) when she was younger.  And then there’s Annie Potts. Remember her from Designing Women and Ghost Busters? She’s back as Sheldon’s Memaw (grandmother) and is a riot!!!

But I digress, just a little bit. Chuck Lorre’s vanity cards aka blog: I will never come close to his writing talent. But I can try. I can encourage others to try. And I can simply sit back and enjoy Lorre’s genius just for the sake of genius! 
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?    December: British writer, J.G. Dow. January: Sue Grafton ~ In Memory
                                                                                   
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John Lithgow….and His Stories

     “…and that’s why we all need stories.”  John Lithgow said in a recent talk show interview.  He was telling the story of his father reading, to he and his siblings, from a book of short stories.  And then years later, as his father lay dying, John Lithgow said he read aloud to him from the very same book. 

John tells another story, within his story about reading this book of shorts to his father.  He has been on the road with this one-man show for years.  Narrating these same stories from this same book.  He calls it a trunk show; an old theatre expression. That is, pack up everything at night’s end and move, on down the road, to the next town where he presents this one-night-stand again.  He says that he finally wound his way to Broadway and is now  performing to sold-out, delighted audiences. 

This is why I entreat, beg, admonish, and plead with my readers to tell someone your story (hopefully your children and grandchildren), or write it down in a journal or even publish it. With today’s technology we are losing our oral history. And when this set of grandparents pass away it will all be lost. We all need stories. 

“Rarely have I spent so entertaining and touching a night at the theater. The predominant sentiment in Stories by Heart is love.” —Terry Teachout, The Wall Street Journal

“Superb, illuminating and uplifting. The imagination, Mr. Lithgow wants us to know, is powerful. What could feel more current, more worthwhile in the first days of 2018?” —Jesse Green, The New York Times

This is me telling a story about John Lithgow’s story.  
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?    December: British writer, J.G. Dow. January: Sue Grafton ~ In Memory
                                                                                   
                                         Check out more Motivational Moments…for Writers!

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How To Format Your (Self-published) Stage Play

TS.   Now that the traditional publishers have turned you down, file away that rejection letter,  soothe your fragile writer’s ego with a hot cup of tea, some chocolate, or whatever and self-publish your play. 

 It’s important to know that the correct way to format a stage play for submitting (to a publisher, agent or theatre) is very different from the format used when publishing it. Below is a sample of the correct formatting. 

List of  Characters:  I noticed that in the Dramatists Play Service scripts, they do not list the ages of the characters.  I always provide the buyer (producer, director, etc.) the ages of the characters for ease of casting.  I know from experience that a director wants to have this information immediately when choosing a play.  What if they don’t have an eighty-year old, male who can act?  Make-up can only go so far!  Ethnicity is rarely listed but there are exceptions. But, generally, no. What if the director has a different vision for casting?

Sample: 

CAST OF CHARACTERS      (Place on the 3rd or 4th page after title, playwright’s name, Copyright notices.etc.)

Emilee. Age 13, a pubescent girl making decisions

Danny. Age 14, Emilee’s first boyfriend

Maribeth. Age 22, Emilee’s older sister

Emilee’s best friends

Ruth. Age 13. The timid one
Barb. Age 14. The bold one
Sue.   Age 14. The worrier

SETTING
A park bench. Middle School. Emilee’s house. 
TIME
Present day. 

Format Sample:

(From my published short play, “No Means NO!”© ) The formatting of the Dramatist Play Service (publishers) do use parentheses when formatting the blocking. It is jumbled into dialogue even though it does not pertain to that particular character’s ‘action’.  I find this very distracting but I am certain it has to do with production costs and keeping the page count down. Blocking direction is indented, italicized and in parentheses. Line spacing is 1.15 instead of single-spaced. Character’s names are all in CAPS and not italicized. Before dialogue, Characters’ names are all in CAPS with a period. Blocking is indented. Scene breaks should be on the next (right) page. There are no extra line-spaces between blocking and dialogue except if there is a ‘beat’ when the same character pauses. Be certain to leave plenty of white space for the actors/director’s written notes. I prefer the format used by (my publisher) Samuel French, Inc. which you see below:

                                           Scene 1 

Setting: A neighborhood park near a middle-school. Mid-afternoon.

                    (EMILEE and DANNY are seated on a bench. THEY are sitting upstage
                    with their backs to audience and 
are kissing. 
                    DANNY begins to fondle EMILEE. SHE pushes HIS hands away.)

EMILEE. No! Cut it out Danny!
DANNY. (Stopping.) I want you, Emilee. Stop being such a tease.
EMILEE. (Holding both of his wrists.) I don’t want to.

                     (DANNY begins to kiss her again. HE starts to touch her again.
                     Jumping up,
SHE yells at HIM.)

EMILEE. I said ‘No’! I don’t want you to do that!
DANNY. I thought you loved me?
EMILEE. I do.
DANNY. Okay then.

                    (DANNY pulls HER down on to the bench. HE begins to kiss
                     and fondle
EMILEE again.)

EMILEE. (Jumping up and crossing several steps away.) Stop it, Danny!

                    (SHE rushes off stage left.)

DANNY. (Rising and calling after her.) Em! I love you!

Scene 2   (New page)

Setting: Emilee’s home.

                   (SUE, RUTH and BARB are laughing and talking.
                   EMILEE is not participating.)

SUE. (Noticing her friend.) What’s wrong, Em? You sick?
EMILEE. No. Nothing.
BARB. Come on, ‘fess up. We’ve known you since first grade. What’s the matter?
RUTH. You can tell us. You know that, right?
EMILEE. (Sighing.) It’s Danny.
RUTH. Ugh! Boys!

                   (THEY laugh except EMILEE.)

SUE. Whad’ he do?
BARB. Yeah, what? We’ll beat him up for you.
EMILEE. (Laughing tearfully.) He…he wants to do stuff.
SUE. They all do.
BARB. Comes with dating, Em. They’re all dogs.
RUTH. Yeah.
EMILEE. But, I don’t wanna.
SUE. What?
EMILEE. You know…stuff. (Beat.) And I’m afraid that if I don’t, he’ll break up with me.
SUE. Yeah, there’s that.
BARB. Just do it. It’s not so bad if you close your eyes.

                 (The GIRLS who are sexually active giggle.)

RUTH. Do what?
SUE. Jimmy wanted me to kiss him…down there.
RUTH. Why?
EMILEE. I’m not doing that!
BARB. (Blurts out.) I’m having sex with Arnie.

                 (The GIRLS scream.)

SUE. No, you’re not!
BARB. Am too.
RUTH. Barbara J. Masters! I’m telling your Mom!
BARB. No you’re not, Ruthie. Remember our pledge.
SUE. I’m not having sex until I’m sixteen, at least. My parents promised me a car if I will abstain…their word…until I’m sixteen.
BARB. Car trumps a boyfriend any day.
SUE. But that doesn’t mean we don’t do other stuff.
RUTH. Barbie, you’re using a condom, right?
BARB. Arnie doesn’t like them.
RUTH. But you have to.
EMILEE. I don’t want to do any of it. And Danny keeps after me every time we’re alone. What should I do?

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To correctly format your stage play for submitting to publishers, agents, directors click here.  

Look Inside a script: Click Here 
How To Format a Screenplay

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Just Released!  Order here

This new, exciting, instructional book is a sharing of over twenty+ years of experience. This writer has honed  her craft of creative writing.

Thirty-five writing tips that include:

That first, all important, sentence
How to develop rich characters
Writer’s Block
Procrastination
Writing process
What Not to Do (when receiving a critique)

….and many more words of encouragement and tips,
Including quotes from successful writers such as yourself. Takes the ‘scary’ out of writing!

How To Write a Play  Click Here
How To Format a Stage Play  Click Here
How to Write a Ten Minute Play

How To Format a Screenplay
How to
Format Your Novel
Want to try writing a ten minute play?  Click here
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DON’T MISS MY BLOG with twice-weekly posts.  Also featuring INTERVIEWS with other best-selling AUTHORS! with me once a month . We shall sneak into these writers’ special places, be a fly on the wall and watch them create!

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New Short Play, Trans-G Parents

Book #30 in the ShortN’Small Series of short, one act plays.   The Trans-G Parents

 A look into the world of the parents who are trying to do the right thing…support their child….love their child…sometimes
even save their life.  Their child is confused and frightened by their physical being telling them they are one gender
while their heart, soul and mind are telling them that they are another.

This short play’s setting is a support group for parents. Resigned, angry, confused, religious, experienced and lost,
they come together out of a common desperation.  Some handling the situation much better than others.

The script offers an insightful and educational dialogue from parents.  There is no manual on parenting much
less facing the challenges of this gender affirmation generation. 6f. 5m.

 

TS.  This seemed like a natural sequel to the Trans-G Kid, another short play by this playwright. Inspired by the television documentary, The Gender Revolution. 

 

 

 

 

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MY BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?   December: Reed Farrel Coleman, contributing writer for Robert B. Parker series. January was Dinah Jefferies and February’s author is Sheryl Steines. Johan Thompson (South African author) will join us in March.
Check out more Motivational Moments…for Writers!

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Dreams Do Come True!

It took me two years of gentle prodding to finally get my foot (in this case, scripts) in the door of a Manhattan (NYC) book store. This drama book store has been around forever and is the only exclusive script store in the City.  To use the buyer’s expression, “we just have so much real estate” so I am doubly grateful that my books are included in their limited shelf space.

Cyber.Hate.BookCoverImageJust today I filled another order for my scripts and Journals.  Theatre people and writers are BUYING my books and using them.  I couldn’t be more thrilled.  And I’m always surprised by what is selling.

And just recently a  publishing house contracted with me to publish Book 1, The Art of Murder, in my true crime series. Not for a second will I discontinue my self-publishing of my other books.  It is a highly efficient and successful way to get your books out to the reading public with very little cost to you, the writer.

Ten.Minutes.Curtain.Vol.ICover3,200_

 

 

Possession.BookCoverImageWRITERS!  Never give up!  Sometimes it will take you years of perseverance to achieve your goals. The three top tips that I can give you is:

  1. Never stop writing!  You will only become more skilled in your craft.
    2. Keep knocking on doors, whether it is a brick & mortar book store, a publisher, or a literary agent.
    3. Self publish.  It’s free on some sites to build your book.  Your only cost will be the royalty when a book is sold.

    CW.Cover.Scan

    Best Seller!

 

 

 

 

 

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DON’T MISS BLOGS featuring INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!       Julia London, Matt Jorgenson, MJ Mooresand actor/narrator Tavia Gilbert.  March’s featured author is Susie Drougas and long awaited interview with Kathleen Grissom (The Kitchen House) in April.

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The Trans-G Kid, a New Short Play

NEW in my collection of ten minute plays for the classroom or drama department.

Trans.G.BookCoverPreview.doThe Trans-G Kid

I was inspired recently, watching celebrity transgender headlines, to add to my collection of ten minute plays for the classroom. The media has put a ‘better late than never’ and much needed spotlight on the teenagers who are seeking their ‘true selves’. In the process, these teens have been living in fear, confusion and depression, having to hide their feelings. Alone, with a huge secret, many of them look to suicide as a permanent solution to end their pain and uncertainty. The suicide statistics in the teen transgender community is staggering.

The Trans-G Kid was born. My short plays for the classroom cover teen issues in real time. Bullying, cutting, running away, teen dating violence, suicide, drugs, and broken families. If my play opens a single dialogue between student and teacher or child and parent I will consider myself a success! more »

Shakespeare…The Gift that Keeps on Giving

William ShakespeareThe ‘naked truth‘ is, I’ll bet you can’t count the number of times you use one or more of these euphemisms in your every day conversation.  I doubt old Will realized where his words would travel to and for how long.  We writers just hope someone will read what we write. But, to have one’s words live on, after we’re ‘dead as a doornail‘ and not ‘vanish into thin air’ decades or centuries later, well, the possibility makes my ‘hair stand on end‘.

Yeah, I’m playing with you.

William Shakespeare wasn’t born (1564) famous… more »