Make Shit Happen, A Theatre Manifesto

Drama literally means action, so shit has to happen in every scene.

  •  Make the characters work very hard for what they want. Pull the rug out from under them when they’re getting close to their goals.
  • Every character has a different way of speaking and it’s usually not perfect.
  • Don’t repeat characters names a lot.
  • Don’t be broad. Be specific. Zoom in! The smaller, the more universal.
  • Plays are not about speaking and talking. They’re about shit happening.
  • Place ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances or extraordinary people in ordinary circumstances.
  • A small choice or action can have great effects on a character.
  • We shouldn’t need a lot of background information to understand what’s happening in the moment.
  • Never make a character ask “what?” Unless they are literally hard of hearing.
  • Scenes are active - they’re conflicts and tensions, dilemmas and decisions, actions and reactions of your characters.
  • Don’t be afraid of giving your characters obstacles.
  • Write what you feel. Characters are driven by emotion to get what they want.
  • Every scene doesn’t begin at the beginning. Choose your point of attack!
  • Remember that people often don't say what they want to say - or say the opposite of what they think. What’s bubbling under the surface?
  • A reference that only 2% of your audience will get is alienating 98% of your audience.
  • What’s the most surprising thing that could happen in this scene? You don’t have to use it, but it’s good to know what it could be.
  • Characters must change by the end of a scene. However small, they'll never be the same again.
  • Write what you want to watch.
  • Write down an overview of the main events and actions that may happen in the scene ahead of writing it.
  • "Hot seat" your characters. Assume the identity of one of your characters and get someone to ask you questions about yourself.
  • Write a first draft with the internal critic switched off.
  • Don’t get it right, get it written.
  • Let the scene breathe and then revisit.
  • Rewrite it.
  • Don’t be afraid of cutting.
  • Use what works, destroy what doesn’t.
  • There are no rules, there is only what works.