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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 similar to 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 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.)

                                                                       CAST OF CHARACTERS (centered.)

Emma ~~ A young earthling girl
Stare ~~ A rhetorical owl
Donald ~~ A young fairie
Cheets ~~ a rambunctious elf
Patsy ~~ A large banana spider
Agnes & Annie ~~ the sister Aardvarks
Thomas ~~ the sea-faring sea turtle
Bertie ~~ the resident reading teacher

SETTING
The Fabled Forest
TIME
Present day. 

Format Sample:

(From my published children’s play, “Emma and the Aardvarks”© ) 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, centered, and not italicized. Before dialogue, Characters’ names are all in CAPS with a period. Blocking is indented x 2. 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:

 

ACT II  (centered & underlined.)

 

Scene 2

At Rise:   A clearing in the fabled forest.

(EMMA and MRS. MOSEYALONG are sitting together on the grass. The PUPPIES are rolling around, play fighting, in the grass as puppies do. CHEETS is trying to get into the play. AGNES and ANNIE sit across from THEM reading THEIR book on Australia.)

MRS. MOSEYALONG

Let me assure you, Emma, we hunt and eat impala, Thomson’s gazelle and common wildebeest. Also, smaller animals such as dik-dik and warthogs.

CHEETS
(Stopping HIS play with the PUPS.)

That’s a funny word. Dik-dik. (Demanding.) Cheets wants to know what it means.

                                                                     EMMA

Manners, Cheets. Perhaps you could ask Mrs. Moseyalong about dik-diks.

                                                                 CHEETS

Cheets wants to know about dik-diks.

                                                                  STARE

Who?

                     (EMMA sighs.)                                             

                                                   MRS. MOSEYALONG

It’s all right, Emma. Sometimes my pups can be very rude. (To Cheets.) Dik-diks are a small antelope.  We don’t hunt Aardvarks. We find their meat far too fatty.

                                                         AGNES
                                                   (Over-hearing.)

I beg your pardon. We are not fatty.  Really! Annie, did you hear what that dog said about us?

                                                         ANNIE

Oh, I don’t think she meant⸺

                                          MRS. MOSEYALONG
                                       (Speaking simultaneously.)

I didn’t mean⸺

                                                   AGNES

Really! The nerve of some dogs.

                                       MRS. MOSEYALONG
                              (Turning back to Emma and Cheets.)
                                   
Dik-dik live in the bushland of Africa. Sadly, they are being driven to extinction in some parts of our homeland. We try to eat other things.

                                                    PATSY
                                 (Knitting her web furiously.)

Iii–Eee!  Los pequeños, los cachorros! Mrs! Your children are destroying my web. Mira! See what they have done.

                            (Slowly rising, SHE crosses to where HER pups are bumping into the lower strands of Patsy’s web. SHE  growls once deep in HER throat.)

                                   MRS. MOSEYALONG

Grrrrrr⸺         

                                     (The PUPS instantly stop THEIR play and run to THEIR mother’s side, whining and kissing HER  face.)

                                     MRS. MOSEYALONG

I apologize, Miss Patsy. My pups are careless but mean no harm.

                                                   PATSY

Dios mío, qué molestia! My beautiful web. Now I will have to repair. Go away! I am very⸺how you say⸺ocupada.

                                     (MRS. MOSEYALONG leads HER litter to the other   side of the glen, where EMMA is sitting. ROGER, JAX  and SERENGETI pile into EMMA’s lap and EMMA   falls back in the grass, laughing.)

                                    (FERGUS and DONALD enter.)

                                   MRS. MOSEYALONG

Good morning, Sir Fergus, Mr. Donald. (Turning to her pups.) Quiet down, children.

                                    (The PUPPIES, stop their wrestling atop EMMA and sit  at attention watching the adults. EMMA sits up.)

                                                  EMMA

Good morning. Sir Fergus, did you rest well? 
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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
Journals by Trisha Sugarek
Want to see some original plays? Click here. 
47 Short Plays to choose from. Click here.
Fiction by Trisha Sugarek  
Children’s Books by Sugarek
How to Create a Tantalizing Book Cover 

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Procrastination
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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
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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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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.

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    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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Interview with Prolific Playwright

Headshot.TS.259x300TS: Adam Szymkowicz, a published playwright and employed by The Juilliard School, asked to interview me, while wearing my playwright hat.  I was happy to oblige and hope that you will visit his blog to read the entire article.  Most of all, I hope it entertains you.

INTERVIEW * Trisha Sugarek, Playwright, director, actor * by Adam Szymkowicz

AS: What are you working on now?

Transgendered teensA ten minute play, for the classroom, about transgender teens. I have written 26 of these scripts addressing real life issues in a teen’s life such as, Bullying, running away, drugs, teen dating violence, cutting and suicide.

 AS: Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.

As a writer: I grew up, before television, at my mother’s knee. She told wonderful stories of her growing up, in the wild forests of Washington state, with her 13 siblings. I have written 3 stage plays and 2 novels based on these true stories. more »

Happy Birthday, Will Shakespeare!

Richard.IIIToday is William Shakespeare’s birthday and I thought what a perfect time for dig out my old tried and true monologue that I used for 25+ years when auditioning as an actor.

When you stand in front of a director and his usual team (a stage manager, an assistant director, etc.)and you tell them your name and what monologue you will be presenting, (in my case) Lady Anne from Richard III.  I always enjoyed watching their faces; knowing the inward groan…’Oh, crap!  Not Anne again… I would smile knowing what they were thinking.   more »