Archive for the Category » Short Plays for the Young Actor «

New Short Play, I Can’t Breathe, for Teens

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I Can’t Breathe  ©

I have just completed writing a new, ten minute play for the classroom and teens about the protests in our streets and the murder of George Floyd. 

Synopsis: Jorge, a young black man is asked to teach a social studies class by his teacher. What it’s like to live the black experience. Only to become a victim, himself, later that same day. Driving home from school he is stopped by cops for a traffic infraction. It quickly turns deadly.

Sample:

At Rise: The interior of a car.

            (JORGE is driving HIS small SUV down a   neighborhood street, at a reasonable speed. Blue lights         erupt in HIS rearview mirror.)

 

                                                    JORGE

Oh crap. (He talks to himself.) I wasn’t speeding….was I?

            (JORGE pulls over and watches in HIS side  mirror as a white COP walks from HIS squad car towards JORGE’s car. JORGE starts  reciting everything his mom told him to do in case HE’s  pulled over.)  

                                                                                                                                                           JORGE

Be polite. ‘Yes, sir’, ‘No, sir’. Don’t argue, don’t resist. Be polite whatever happens.

 

            (The COP arrives at the driver’s side window. HE taps on the closed window.)

 

                                                                                                                                                      JORGE   (Rolling down the window.)

Good afternoon, Officer.

 

                                                                                                                                                       COP

Reason why you didn’t stop when I lit you up?

 

                                                                                                                                                  JORGE

I did….sorry, sir. No reason, sir.

 

                                                                                                                                                    COP
License, registration, proof of insurance. Who’s the vehicle belong to?

 

                                                                          JORGE
                             (Scrambling to get the documents out of the glove box.) 

My mom, sir.

                                                                                                                                                   COP

What are ya?⸺a wise ass⸺with all the ‘sirs’?

 

                                                                                                                                                 JORGE

No, s….no, officer. I’m not.

                                                                                                                                                    COP
                                                                                                                   (Grabbing the door handle. It is locked.) 

Step outta the car.

                                                          JORGE
                       (Getting scared. Forgetting everything HIS mom ever told HIM.)

Why?

                                                                                                                                                  COP

Unlock the door and step out…NOW!
                                                                  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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How To Write a Play~~Plot, Pro/Antagonist, Conflict

Whether you are a reader or a writer you love a little conflict and a few antagonists in any plot. So to the writers of stage plays.

It is a challenge to write conflict with dialogue only. There is no description (like fiction) where you can tell the reader how angry and against something your antagonist is. Granted you have the characters right there to tell the story with their body language but….

I am going to use examples from my most recent play. A children’s play but the rules still apply and are not less challenging because it’s a kids’ play. 

Sub-PLOT:  The sooner the plot is revealed the better. If you haven’t engaged the audience in the first three minutes, you don’t have a very good plot. In Emma and the Aardvarks the plot begins on the first page of script. Two Aardvarks, sisters, tumble out of a Time Portal and into the fabled forest. In minutes the occupants of the forest discover them and the audience discovers the protagonists and antagonists. 

Example: (Plot)

                                                         AGNES  ©
(Gazing up into the trees, HER nose switching as fast as possible.)

I think we’re lost, dear sister. This doesn’t look anything like the pictures of Australia in our book.

            ANNIE
(Frowning.)

Oh, dear, I’m quite afraid.

                                                            STARE (Owl)

Whooo?

                                                            ANNIE
                                                (ANNIE runs over to AGNES.)

Ekk. What was that?                                                       
                                                            STARE

Who?

                                                            AGNES

What?                                                           

                                                            ANNIE

That.
                                                            AGNES

Not certain. But keep a look out anyway.

                                                           ANNIE

I don’t like this place, Agnes.

                                                            AGNES

You’re such a scaredy-cat, Annie. It’s a simple forest, much like the jungles of home.

                        (DONALD, a fairie, enters.)

                                                            DONALD

                         Don’t go. I mean you no harm.

(With the dialogue, we’ve told the audience that the two sisters are in the forest by accident. That their destination had been Australia. They meet their first friend (protagonist). 

ANTAGONISTS: We’ll return to the plot later but let’s go on…Enter the first antagonist. This character is very selfish and immediately is suspicious of the two newcomers.

Example: (Antagonist)

                                                                  PATSY (Banana Spider)
                                                (Knitting her web very fast.)

Eye–eee! Por favor, who are these ugly newcomers? Dios mío, ¿se comerán mis insectos? The bugs are for me and me alone!

                                                            DONALD

Patsy, where are your manners? Everyone is welcome in the fabled forest, as long as they come in peace.

                                                            PATSY

Dios mio, how do we know they come in peace, pequeño? Se ven como bandidos!

Another Protagonist enters:

                                                             EMMA

Please join us. (Turning to Donald.)  Donald introduce us immediately.

                                                            DONALD

Miss Agnes, Miss Annie, this is my friend, Emma.

                                                            EMMA

Oh! You are so cute. It’s nice to meet new friends.  And such pretty hats. May I? (EMMA reached up and adjusted the frothy thing atop AGNES’ head that had been knocked askew in the mad dash into the forest.) You’re the shy young lady, aren’t you? May I adjust your hat, Miss Annie? There! All fixed. May I ask? What species are you?

PLOT: After a few main characters are established, we  return to the main Plot, (all told through dialogue) which is about global warming and endangered species. 

Example (Plot):  

                                                             EMMA 

Miss Agnes, why were you going to Australia?

                                                            AGNES

Back home, in Africa, we are losing our habitat to humans, farms, and roads.

                                                            ANNIE

It’s terrible. There aren’t very many of us aardvarks left, you know.

                                                            CHEETS

What does that mean? ‘Not many of you left’?

                                                            AGNES

We’re being killed off.

                                                            EMMA 

Oh no! But you’re so cute. And if you’re insectivores, you help keep the natural world balanced.

                                                            AGNES

One would think so. (Beat.) So when our habitat goes, we go. We are threatened.

                                                            DONALD

We must do something!

ANTAGONIST & Protagonists:  The Plot thickens when you have more than one antagonist. And when you can, more than one protagonist.

Example (Antagonist and Protagonists.): 

                                                           CHEETS

I don’t like them. Nope. Don’t like the look of them and they smell funny.

                                                            STARE

Who?

                                                            CHEETS

Those two⸺whad-ya-call-ems.

                                                           EMMA

Aardvarks.

                                                            CHEETS

Yeah⸺them.

                                                            EMMA

Cheets, that’s unkind. You know nothing of Annie and Agnes. They seem perfectly fine to me. In fact, I think they’re cute.

                                                            STARE
                                                           
Who?

                                                            THOMAS

Quiet, Stare. Those two ladies are my friends from the Dark Continent.  As for you, you⸺you scurvy young scallywag you keep yer opinions to yerself.

                                                            CHEETS

But what if they eat someone we know?

                                                            EMMA

Cheets, that’s silly. Do you know any ants? Beetles? Termites on a personal basis?

                                                            CHEETS

Noooo⸺but I might meet some.

                                                              EMMA

Yes, Cheets, you’re judging these newcomers and deciding you don’t like them based on⸺what? Nothing.

                                                            THOMAS

They’ve had a rough go. The place they lived is no more. The picaroons have burned it, then planted it. Some of their family and friends have been killed.

                                                             CHEETS

Don’t care. Still don’t like ‘em. Who ever heard of aardvarks, anyway?

CONFLICT: 5 Ways to Create Conflict in Your Story:
Give your characters clear goals.
Go big, go small. 
Let your characters fail. 
4. Make your characters opinionated. 
Use exposition to your advantage.

The Time Portal is malfunctioning. Some of the occupants of the forest are welcoming, some are suspicious and angry. 

Example:                                           EMMA

He’s very excitable, Miss Agnes. Are you really from Africa?

                                                            ANNIE
                                    (Cuddling close to EMMA’s side.)

Yes, Miss Emma, we were going on vacation and then this⸺happened.

                                                            EMMA

Oh, dear, I’m sorry.

                                                            AGNES

Yes, our travel agent, Time Portal for All Your Vacation Needs, was supposed to send us to Australia. We have distant relatives there. Something must have gone wrong. Someone at the agency pushed the wrong button.

                                                            ANNIE

Where are we, exactly?

                                                            CHEETS
                                    (Poking HIS head out of the bushes.)

You’re in the Fabled Forest. Don’t you know anything?                                                           

                                                            AGNES 

Who raised you? Dogs?  (Beat.) No, not dogs, they are strict with their children. Hyenas, perhaps? Yes, hyenas, our arch enemies. 

More CONFLICT: 
Example: 

                                                          EMMA
                                                    (Steps forward.)

Welcome to our forest. I am Emma and these are my friends. Where did you come from?

                                                            STARE

Who?                                      

                                                            AGNES
                                                         (Sneering.)

Emma, you don’t want to be friends with them. After all they’re just dogs.

Resolution of CONFLICT: The royal engineer enters. Sent to repair the Time Portal so the Aardvarks can be on their way.

 Example:     

                                                                CHEETS
                                                (Jumping up and down.)

The Queen! The Queen! The Queen Cometh!

                                                            FERGUS
                                                     (Looking around.)

No. I don’t think so. It’s just me and my toolbox.

                                                            EMMA

Why have you been sent to us, Mr. Fergus?

                                                            FERGUS

It’s just Fergus, Miss. Or in more formal settings, Sir Fergus.

                                                            DONALD

And you’re here because⸺?

                                                            FERGUS

To repair your portal⸺time machine⸺of course. It is broken, isn’t it?

                                                            DONALD

Our portal?                                                     

                                                            CHEETS
                                                     (Whispers in awe.)

We have a portal?                                                           

                                                            EMMA

And the Queen knew ours is broken?

                                                            CHEETS

What’s a portal?                                                         

                                                            FERGUS

Yes. Yes. Indubitably. If you’ll just show me the way, I’ll begin my work.

                                                            EMMA
I’m afraid we have no idea where it might be in the forest. Until the sisters arrived we didn’t know anything about a portal. They arrived from Africa.

More CONFLICT: More animals arrive through the Portal. This results in more conflict.

Example: 

                                                             EMMA
                                                    (Steps forward.)

Welcome to our forest. I am Emma and these are my friends. Where did you come from?

                                                            STARE

Who?                                      

                                                            AGNES

Emma, you don’t want to be friends with them. After all they’re just dogs.

                                                              FERGUS

Blimey. Someone’s coming.

                                    (Out of the entrance to the Portal tumble dog-like CREATURES. The five PUPPIES yip and howl as they tumble to the                                          forest floor.)

                                                            MIC
                                                        (Howling.)

Moommmyy! What’s happening?                                                           

                                                            SERENGETI
                                                            (Howling louder.)

Moommmyy! I’m a-scarrr-eeddd.

                                                            STARE
                                                (Trying to join the howling.)

Whooooooooooooo?

                                    (Two adult DOGS enter from the Portal mouth.)

                                                            MRS. MOSEYALONG
                   Tentatively wagging HER tail.)

It’s all right, children. We’re safe.

                                                            JAX

Stop being such a baby, Serengeti.

                                                            SERENGETI
              (Cowering near HER mother’s legs.)

I’m not.
                                                            JAX

Are too.

                                                           MR. MOSEYALONG

Quiet now, children.                                                           

                                                            SERENGETI

Yes, Papa.

                                                            MIC

Where are we, Papa?

                                                   MR. MOSEYALONG

I’m not certain just yet⸺but I intend to find out!  Yip, Yip, yowwww.

                                                   MRS. MOSEYALONG                                

Goodness, who might you all be?

                                                            ROGER
                                                            (Whining.)

Mama, who are they? Will they hurt us?                                               

                                                            ZEKE
                                                (Yipping and howling.)

I want to go home.

                                                            CHEETS
                                                (Pointing at the dogs.)

Look! Our forest is turning into a jungle of expired animals!

Remember, dialog is simply conversation between your characters. In your story, imagine what your characters would say to each other in a conversation. The more conflict you create in your story, the richer the story will be. Be aware of ‘loose ends’ when you solve the conflict.
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New Ten Minute Play ~~Climate Change

The  actual activists that are seated before Congress this very minute inspired this new play for the classroom. Mother Earth is dying and we have little time to correct the destructive path we, as a species, are on. Young people across the globe see, with a clear vision, what is at risk, while the ‘grownups’ dither and argue and get nothing done. 5f. 5m. 

My Planet, Your Planet, Our Planet is #35 in the series of ten minute plays for the classroom.  “G” rated and appropriate for middle school and high school. 

 

Available at all book stores and online.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To see the entire Collection

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August:  My interview with Susan Wiggs  September: Alan Foster (sci-fi) and October: Kristina McMorris
 
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New 10 Minute Play, ‘Parkland Requiem’

Requiem: an act or token of remembrance…

Mass shootings are a part of our current culture. Not until now did I have something to say (write) about the mass murders that plague our nation. One day after the horrendous mass shooting at the Virginia Beach Municipal building did I begin writing. 

Synopsis:

This ten minute play for teens (in the classroom) is to honor and memorialize the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. It focuses on a small class of students hidden away in safety by their English teacher and what happens while they wait for the shooting to stop. But the question begs will they ever be safe again?

The murdered victims:

My character, Mr. Hale is fashioned after Scott Beigel, 35, a geography teacher and the school’s cross-country coach. He was killed after he unlocked a door to allow students in to hide from the shooter,

Alyssa Alhadeff
Aaron Feis
Martin Duque Anguiano
Nicholas Dworet
Jamie Guttenberg
Chris Hixon
Luke Hoyer
Cara Loughran
Gina Montalto
Joaquin Oliver
Alaina Petty
Meadow Pollack
Helena Ramsay
Carmen Schentrup
Peter Wang

Want to see more one act plays? Click here 
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New Short Play: Drop the Phone

Newest in the collection of ten minute plays for teens and the classroom. 

                        What would happen if you put down your phone for a half an hour and had a real conversation with another human being? Now lets mix it up further; sit down and talk to someone in your class who you don’t really know that well or at all. Are they who you thought they were? Were they surprised about who you are? This one act play, styled for the classroom (no sets, no costumes, no props), has a group of teens who do not tweet, email, Facetime or chat on their mobile devices for one half hour. They must TALK to each other, face to (real) face.  What did you learn about the person? What did you learn about yourself? 

5f. 4m.

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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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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
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 This exciting, instructional book is a collection of tips covering over twenty+ years of experience. Within its pages is a snapshot of the writer  honing  her craft over time.

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Available now!

To Purchase

 

‘No Means No!’ New short play for the Classroom by Trisha Sugarek

  Available now!   The latest short play in the playwright’s  ShortN’Small series.
“G” rated for teens and the classroom.

Those who follow me and all my friends in theatre know that I have added to the
ShortN’Small short play series for years now. ‘G’ rated 10 minute plays that focus on issues impacting the teens of today. 
Ranging from divorce to cutting, from running away to drug use, from date violence to bullying. 

 Synopsis:  Emilee has reached the age where boys are pressuring her into sexual activities that she is not ready for.
In this ‘G’ rated, short play for the classroom we explore the peer pressure that comes to bear as young girls
try to navigate their teen years.

Emilee is torn between what her friends are doing and what she instinctively knows is not right for
her at this stage in her life.   1m. 5f.

No props, no sets, no costumes, just open dialogue!

To purchase click here

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MY BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?    September: Dylan Callens.  October’s author is Donna Kauffman. In November we say hello to Rita Avaud a Najm. 
                                                                                   
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 To Purchase

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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