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Prompts: Day 27

Prompt #45: Bard For Life

Get inspired by your favorite shakespeare play! Retell the classic story in a new and exciting way. 

Prompt #46: Love & Marriage 

Write a scene about a young couple first meeting and falling in love. Then write a follow up scene in which that same couple has been married for twenty five years. 

PROMPTS: Day 26

Get your helmets ready, playwrights! Today our prompts cover sports, and plays for older actors. Also, have you purchased your 31/31 T-shirt yet!?  If not, now is the time!! http://teespring.com/31days31plays   

Prompt #43: Golden Years  

All the characters in your play are between 60-100 years old. 

Prompt #44: Good Sport

Find inspiration from your favorite sport! Competitive games have a built in conflict. Think about creative ways that a group of actors can perform a sport on stage! 

PLAY DATE: Aleesha Nash

It might be the last week of the 31 Plays in 31 Days challenge, but that doesn’t mean we’re stopping the fun! We have another awesome Play Date for you from one of our talented 31/31 playwrights, Aleesha Nash. Check it out! 

You moved from Ohio to New York City to pursue your masters at NYU. What there a big culture shock for you?

New York was definitely a culture shock in both good and bad ways.  The thing that stands out the most is the cost of living.  I moved with $1700… in Ohio that would have covered some of the essentials for a while.  In New York… not so much.  For starters the person I was staying with lived far into Jersey and I was paying $40 a day to commute.  That forced me to find a room before I found a job.  Getting around was a shock.  I moved to pursue a Master’s Degree at New York University and it took me several tries the campus.  I would see the NYU area on the MTA subway map but for some reason I could never quite find the place.   I would get off the train and walk.  I discovered some great places but never NYU.  One day I just ran into it by accident.  Thank God I got to NYC two months before school started.

The best shock was the energy of the City.  I’m still in love with this even after 7 years [collectively] of living in the City.  The weird smell of the liquid that comes from the street cleaning machines and the moment when the sun starts to dry the streets to make way for a busy day… it’s magical!

Tell us about your play Yours Truly, Vincent.

Yours Truly, Vincent. (referred to as “YTV” hereafter), a production about the life and works of Dutch Post-Impressionist artist; Vincent van Gogh. The monodrama based on his 900-plus letters, generated dialogue that fostered a one-to-one relationship with the audience offering Van Gogh the freedom to ultimately, share the inner drama of an artist’s consciousness.

Over the years, Van Gogh has been the subject of several studies most of which report that his life was full of sorrow and strife.   In creating YTV, it was my hope to depict the compassion and intention behind Van Gogh’s life.  I say intention because I believe that he consciously elected to be what he was—a voluntary outcast and an artist that worked in isolation.

I believe that Van Gogh’s story is the story of many rising artists.  Sadly, popular culture has begun to glamorize the ideals of being a “tortured artist” and many artists are attracted to this aspect of Van Gogh’s story.   With the use of Van Gogh’s story, this play will help to dispel some of the misperceptions about the life of an artist and put a bigger focus on his ability to be consistent, his willingness to learn, and the level of sacrifice for his work and self-proclaimed life purpose to bring happiness to others through his art.

Yours Truly, Vincent. is a love affair with language, a celebration of all that is beautiful and poignant in life.

What was your writing processing for creating a piece of devised theater?

This was my first experience with creating work for the theater.  The inspiration came from an audition that I went on [as an actor].  The producers of the show had a stack of poems and we were told to pair up with another actor and create a 1-minute play using only the words of the poems.  I don’t know what we came up with or how the audition went because my mind was busy thinking about the process.  On the train ride home, still pondering, it hit me… “I can write a play about Van Gogh using his [903] letters as dialogue.” At the time that I thought it … I thought it was the best idea EVER… not knowing that others had done the same thing.  I was so focused I didn’t have any time to discover these other works about Van Gogh.

I didn’t start writing immediately.  I think I was more fascinated with having the idea… so I entered it into the Emerging Artist Theater’s (EAT) New Works Series.  To prepare for this I started reading lots of one-person shows and started reading Van Gogh’s collection of letters.  To be fair I had already ready them once… so I had sort of an idea of what years / dates to find what information I wanted to convey through my play.  To apply to be apart of the EAT series you only needed to supply an idea.  After a few weeks I hadn’t heard from them so I wrote to check on the status of my application.  They wrote back and said if I were still interested they had an opening.  The available date was six weeks from the day I called.  I happily agreed.

My first draft was awful.  I didn’t know anything about dramatic structure and was trying to recreate Van Gogh’s voice.  I went to my writing coach and in a nutshell he told me… “Your job is not to write in this case… your job is to edit.” I walked out of this meeting crying like a baby (which is another great thing about NYC… you can do what you want and not look crazy as you walk down the street sobbing).  I called one of my friends and told him what happened and he agreed to lock me in his house, take away all my electronic devices away, feed me, and sit with me while I wrote another draft.  When I arrived to my friend’s house the next morning he decided that he should take my shoes so that I could not run.  I sat for hours writing, wanting to throw up, and then writing some more.  Eventually, around 5AM I finished.  The next day I sent to my writing coach and his response was… “You take direction very well.”  I was so happy that I cried again.

So this is how my first piece was devised.  My current process is a little more structured.  I repurposed a process that I learned from Screenwriter, Dustin Lance Black.  I start with research.  Every idea goes onto an index card.  Behind that idea is all the support research, reminders, thoughts, quotes, etc. When I feel like I have some sort of a story I start laying the the most theatrical moments out in the order that they may appear in the script.  After all the cards are laid out I take away the cards that are no longer needed to tell the story.  I stare at the order of the cards making sure I’ve made the strongest choices.  I arrange, rearrange, and drive myself crazy for hours or even days… and then once this madness has ended I begin writing the script.  The cards help me to stick with my ideas and not abandon them in moments of feeling stuck or discouraged. I read somewhere that “Discipline is remembering what you want.” This process helps with that!

You completed the 31/31 challenge last year, and you used social media as a tool. Tell us a little about that.

Every day I shared the prompts with my FB friends and using that to update them on where I was or how I was feeling about the process of writing a play every day.  It helped me to be accountable.  One of my friends when they felt like I needed some support joined in the fun with me.  They wrote a play a day for 5 days.  We set a time, during those days, and then we sent our plays to each other.  We read them and then talked about them over the phone.  It was really allot of fun.  It really showed me that writing, though mostly a solo experience, can be more fun with others.

As I was writing this someone from my Facebook community just wrote to me and asked… “are you doing that writing a play a day thing?” I responded yes.  And they proceeded to tell me that they want to write a [musical] verse per day.  They continued by saying that writing has always been therapeutic for them and they miss that creative outlet!  Very cool!  I’m glad I could be apart of bringing this out of someone and that my FB presence allowed them to feel comfortable… Keep sharing and keep writing! :)

Your working on a new series of short plays that all deal with child abuse and use fairy tales as a framing devise. What brought you to make this connection between fairy tales and abuse?

My day job is working at a non-profit organization in that primarily serves underrepresented youth.  Over the years I have noticed that children, when facing hardships, have a way of normalizing their problems thus making them apart of their regular day, including playtime.  My goal for this collection of plays is to put young people on the stage to share their stories from their perspective.  But to also have adults look closer at how young people respond to the bad things that happen to and around them. 

Okay, ready to play?! Write a short scene inspired by a time in your life you forgave someone.

[LEE (male late-40s)  is sitting in the living room watching television when RENEE (female early 20s) walks down the stairs. RENEE is just waking up for the day.  It’s  early afternoon.]

LEE

Good Morning sleepyhead.

RENEE

                                                (sarcastically but saying “hello”)

…Dad.

LEE

I made some breakfast….  You want to eat something?

RENEE

Sure.  Why not? 

(LEE stands up and goes into the kitchen area.  RENEE sits at the dining table - with her cell phone in hand.)

LEE

I didn’t know what you liked so I made pancakes, eggs, some bacon, and a little oatmeal.  I can make some toast too if you like.

RENEE

Eggs are fine.

LEE

…Eggs it is!  (beat) You know.  I’ll make some fresh ones for you so that they are nice and hot.

RENEE

The ones you already made are fine.

LEE

Don’t be silly.  I never get to see you.  The least I can do is make some fresh eggs for my oldest daughter comes to visit me. (beat) Are scrambled okay?

RENEE

Yeah.

(after a few beats)

LEE

…It’s all in the seasonings.

RENEE

——-

LEE

…Garlic powder. 

RENEE

——- 

LEE

…Yup…garlic powder.

RENEE

———

(LEE continues scrambling eggs and RENEE sits at the table looking through her cell phone.)

LEE

When you were a baby you would laugh so hard.  I would call you a“giggle box”.

RENEE

——— 

LEE

It was cute.

RENEE

(after a few beats)

How’s Kendall?

LEE

She’s good.  Looking for a part-time job.  She’ll be over later.  She wants to catch you while you’re here.

RENEE

I feel bad that I don’t reach out to her as much.

LEE

It’s ok.  She understands.

RENEE

It would be nice to have the same relationship with her as I do with Annie.  (beat) Living in the same house with someone really helps…

LEE

Don’t worry.  I’ve been telling her about you guys since she was a baby.  I think she’s just happy to know she has two sisters.  (beat) She’s young anyway… 

RENEE

…That pic you tagged me in on Facebook was cool.

LEE

I was going through some old albums and there were  a bunch of baby pictures of you and Annie.  (beat) I added Kendall to the photo. 

RENEE

——

LEE

…All my girls together.

RENEE

——

LEE

(after a few beats)

I saw a good flick the other night. (beat) Pulp Fiction?

RENEE

Mom never let us watch movies with allot of violence.

LEE

——

RENEE

I can really smell the garlic powder…

(LEE puts a plate of eggs in front of RENEE)

LEE

Anything else I can get you?

RENEE

Thank you. No.  This is great. 

LEE

                                                                        (after a few beats)

So what else are you into nowadays? 

RENEE

School and work pretty much takes up my time.

LEE

I knew you were going to grow up to be a smart girl… I just had this feeling about you.

RENEE

——

LEE

——

RENEE

…Thank you for the birthday card by the way.

LEE

I’m sorry if it got there too late.  I tried to mail it so that it would get to you on your birthday…

RENEE

No… perfect timing. (awkward laugh)  I celebrated the whole week.

LEE

I didn’t have much to put in it but I wanted you to at least be able to get yourself something good to eat. 

RENEE

Don’t worry about it.  (beat) Thank you.  I appreciate it.

LEE

(after a few beats)

I know of a great hamburger place.  We can go later on if you like…

RENEE

Sure.  We’ll see how it goes after breakfast.

LEE

….burgers are amazing. 

RENEE

Sounds good.

LEE

….good.

RENEE

(after a few beats)

How’s grandma doing?

LEE

She’s good… Talks on the phone all day.

RENEE

You think we can go over there today?

LEE

Later might be a good idea.  She can really talk.

RENEE

I don’t mind.  She has really looked out for me over the years.  The least I can do is let her tell me the latest gossip.

LEE

(after a few beats)

She’s always done right by people.  Anytime I couldn’t get you girls’ presents for Christmas or birthdays she would buy them and send them to you.

RENEE

——

LEE

…I really appreciate her. 

RENEE

 (awkwardly laughs)

Yeah for a while we thought your handwriting changed.  Then we figured it out.

LEE

——

RENEE

…It’s the thought that counts.

LEE

(after a few beats)

I wish I could have done more for you girls.

RENEE

——

LEE

Time passed and then you girls were grown up.

RENEE

…we don’t blame you for any of that stuff anyway.  (beat) Sometimes hard choices have to be made…

LEE

——

RENEE

(after a few beats)

You should call Annie sometimes. 

LEE

Yeah?

RENEE

Yeah.  I know she was a lot younger when you and mom separated but she’s still wants to know who you are.  And I think it would help—

LEE

——

RENEE

You’re a nice guy.  She needs to know that.

[END SCENE]

 

PROMPTS: Day 25

It’s important to remember, the point of the 31/31 challenge isn’t to write a perfect plays…or even always good plays…the point is to just keep writing. So we ask you to do just that with these two prompts. 

Happy writing, Playwrights. 


Prompt #41: Bed Ridden (Submitted by Topher Cusumano)

One of your main characters is stuck in bed for the entire play. 

Prompt #42: A Newborn Question (Submitted by Richard Rosario)

What if babies could talk? 

PROMPTS: Day 24

Final day of the weekend, time to write your heart outs, playwrights! 

Happy writing. 

Prompt #39: Root Of The Problem 

It’s a normal day in the dentist’s office…until a problem from the doctor’s private life gets in the way of them doing their job. 

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Prompt #40: Super Spoof 

Think of your favorite iconic film (Gone with the Wind, Citizen Kane, Wizard of Oz, etc.)—- and write an epic spoof based on that movie! 

(Today’s prompts written by 31/31 blogger Topher Cusumano)  

PROMPTS: Day 23

Only eight writing days left in this year’s 31/31 challenge. Can you believe it went by this quickly?! Don’t forget to pick up your beautiful 31/31 T-shirt here:  http://teespring.com/31days31plays, and as always, check out today’s prompts below. 

Happy writing, playwrights! 

Prompt #37: Child’s play 

All of the characters in your play are UNDER 18! 

Prompt #38: Inked Up  

Your next play will be set in tattoo parlor, where the owner has a phobia that makes it hard for them to do their job. 

image

(Today’s prompts by 31/31 Blogger, Topher Cusumano) 

Only SEVEN days left to get your 31 Plays in 31 Days T-shirt or Hoodie!

For the past two years Tracy and I have been using our own money to cover the fee for Submittable (the site we use to keep track of your submissions). We’re happy to chip in, but we both have kids AND we’re both in grad school. It would be great if everyone in our playwright community could chip in and help pay these fees together. 

If we meet our goal and sell 50 shirts, you’ll be helping to pay us back for this year and last, AND help cover the cost for next year’s challenge. 

Here’s the link: http://teespring.com/31days31plays!

Buy a shirt for you, buy a shirt for a friend! And tell all the playwrights you know.

Be sure to move fast too! Our pop-up Teespring shop will close in SEVEN days! So get out there and buy a t-shirt or hoodie (men’s and women’s sizes available) today!

Thank you and happy writing! 

Rachel Bublitz, founder

Prompts: Day 21

21 days, 36 prompts. 


Prompt #35: Middle Of The Night 
Your play happens between 12 A.M. and 5 A.M. What kind of people are up over night? How does that change the world of your play? 

Prompt #36: Fire! Fire! 
Sometimes it’s not easy to keep your scenes urgent and full of conflict. So, light a match! At some point in your scene, a fire breaks out (maybe off-stage, maybe on). See how your characters react to this new emergency. 

(Prompts by 31/31 blogger Topher Cusumano) 

Prompts: Day 20 

Mid week prompts for some playwriting fun.


Prompt #34: POETRY IN MOTION

Write a play inspired by your poem!

Prompt #35: SILENT WITNESS

It’s the year you (the playwright) were born. A newborn baby is an important part of the plot.

Prompts: Day 19

It’s hard to believe that there are only two weeks left in this years challenge, but it’s true. Keep those plays coming. We’ll be here until the very end with prompts to keep you inspired! 

Happy Writing, Playwrights! 

Prompt #32: Back To School 


It’s the first day of school. A run-in between a new student and a new teacher leads to secrets being revealed… 

Prompt #33 Work Of Art  

Pick a favorite piece of visual art, then write a play inspired by that work or it’s artist. Here’s one of my favorites, Young Woman (1940) painted by Alice Neel. 

(Today’s prompts brought to you by 31/31 Blogger, Topher Cusumano)