Sometimes it can be difficult to come up with a good idea for a 10-minute play. Inspiration rarely strikes like lightening. It can also be quite challenging to find suitable ideas for short plays that are simple and not too complex. The trick is to use a series of working methods to be able to tap into a whirlpool of inspiration.
Pool of Poetry
Find a poem to use as the theme of the play. The visual imagery contained in poems can provide a playwright with a rich source of thematic ideas. For example, sonnets are like love letters and could inspire a short romantic comedy, while war poetry could inspire a serious short drama. Devise a 10-minute play from a specific theme or adapt the poem by turning it into a piece of theater.
Pool of Images
View three photographic images: one depicting a scenic view of a place; the second image being of a person to represent a possible character and the third an unusual object. Develop a short scenario from what is perceived to be happening in the photographs. It is surprising how quickly a storyline idea can result from using visual references as inspirational triggers.
Pool of Experiments
Adapt an existing period play but create an experimental version. Write a short adaptation of a scene or a condensed version of the entire play. Pick a famous drama practitioner --- such as Brecht, Stanislavski or Artaud --- and write the adaptation in the point of view of that drama practitioner. Alternatively, keep the short play fresh with an entirely innovative and experimental perspective based on an old literary idea.
Pool of Emails
If devising a short play with a co-writer, try alternative ways of coming up with new material together. Try writing an experimental email play. The idea is to work separately at either side of email. One writer begins an email conversation by writing one sentence of dialogue and then sends the line to his co-writer and waits for a reply with the second line of dialogue. The emails are passed back and forth until a storyline spontaneously develops through the email chat.
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