There has never been a way to practice this. Until NOW.

You know the cliche . . . how do you get to Carnegie Hall?

You practice.

But that’s about performers or musicians.

What about if you want to write a play that gets put on at Carnegie Hall? Or better, a few blocks away . . . on Broadway?

How DO you get to Broadway if you’re a writer?

The answer is the same.

Practice.

Every profession practices. If you want to stay at the top of your “game,” you put in time off-the-court, sharpening your skills, so that when the pressure is on, you perform.

For writers, practicing is . . . well . . . writing.

And that didn’t seem like enough to me. I think writers are their own kind of athlete. They need to strengthen certain muscles. They need to become more flexible. They need to know how to hit a jump shot and a layup.

That’s why I asked Eric C. Webb, my Director of Creative Development, with fellow TheaterMaker Christopher Holoyda and my team at The TheaterMakers Studio, to put together the ONLY practice book for playwrights available anywhere.

And AS OF TODAY, it’s available on Amazon.com for a whopping $2.99. (Only through April 19th). And of which, I think Jeff Bezos gets like 90%.

It’s called 100 Playwriting Challenges. And it’s just that. 100 practice exercises for playwrights.

There are exercises for character building, writing better dialogue, etc.

And here’s the promise. You do one of these 5-10 minute exercises a day over the next 100 days, and you will have strong playwriting muscles at the end. You will be a better playwright. Period.

Think of it like doing a set of push-ups for the day. But this strength is going to do oh so much more for you.

I use them. It’s my warm-up. Gets my juices flowing. And then I dig in.

So get it here. It’s $2.99 until April 19th only. And I think Jeff Bezos gets like 90%.

Why did we do it?  Because we believe the world is a better place if there is more theater in it. And that’s why we’ll do anything to help you make more theater and better theater.

Get it here. Gift it to the writer in your life.  But spread the exercises and let’s all get theatrically healthier!

[Zoom Strategy Session] In case you did NOT get what you wanted from Santa.

I’m not surprised.
 
Whenever I talk to TheaterMakers about what they want . . . money never comes up.  No one talks about royalties and selling the movie rights or their share of the merch.
 
All writers, producers, directors want for Christmas (and every other time of year) is to see their shows on a stage. 
Sound like you?
 
You want to hear the actors delivering the lines. You want to hear singers singing your songs. 
 
And you want to hear the applause, laughter, or tears that follow.
 
And I get it. Because that’s all I want too.
 
It’s all I ever wanted.
 
When I was starting out, I pursued a lot of the “traditional” ways to get produced. And . . . they didn’t work. (I’m sure you can relate.)
 
And boy was I frustrated.
 
Then Hal Prince took me to task.
 
Yep, I got a talking-to from the 21-time Tony Award . . . who also shared with me his secrets of seeing your shows on a stage.
 
And, well, when you get advice from a guy like that, it shouldn’t be a surprise to hear that the stuff worked.
 
In fact, every single thing I’ve done in my career so far (and every thing I WILL do) is because of what he taught me that day.
 
The moment his advice started to work, I vowed to share it. To help other TheaterMakers like me see their shows on stage.
 
That’s why I started blogging, podcasting, and it’s why I’m reviving a webinar I did earlier this year . . . with a twist.
 
This Wednesday, December 30th at 8 PM Eastern, join me for a free Zoom Strategy Session entitled, “Get Produced in 2021!” I’ll share the “key” that Hal gave me almost twenty years ago, and the formula that I use to see my shows on stage today.
 
 
And I hope you’ll join, whether you are a TheaterMaker just starting out and have a script (or two!) in a drawer. Or if you’re a veteran who knows your stuff is great, and you can’t understand why it hasn’t received the visibility it deserves. (I’ll explain the issue – which has nothing to do with you.)
 
 
2021 is right around the corner. And there is no question there WILL be shows on stages this year.
 
The only question is . . . will yours be one of them?
So if you haven’t gotten what you REALLY wanted from Santa, join me for this session.
 
Get Produced in 2021
Free Zoom Strategy Session
Wednesday, December 30, 2020
8 PM ET
 
 
– – – – –
 
P.S. Full disclosure . . . at the end of this free training session, I am going to share a very special offer for you to join The TheaterMakers Studio. Something The Studio doesn’t advertise but I asked them to come up with.
 
See, after almost ten years of running training for TheaterMakers, we now KNOW for a fact what works. We analyzed our success stories and cross referenced what they have in common. Then, we took those things and put them in this offer. Because we know TheaterMakers need more resources now that EVER. Oh, and if you’re already a member, you’ll get the same opportunity. Because this is about getting as many people produced in 2021 as possible. We’ve got some ground to make up!
 
If you don’t want the offer, no worries, the Strategy Session is free. But I didn’t want you to be surprised about the offer.
 

FIVE Things I Learned About Playwriting from The Presidential Election.

Watching the last few days of our recent Presidential election was as dramatic as any event I’ve seen in my life.  It kept me riveted to my seats for days!  It was like sitting through Les Miz, both parts of Angels in America AND The Inheritance over and over for a week!  And I didn’t even want to get up to pee!
 
In between waiting for ballots to come in and binging Krispy Kremes and Kit Kats, I couldn’t help but wonder what I could learn from all this drama.
So I asked myself “What about THIS ELECTION put me so on-the-edge-of-my-seat?  And how can I put that into all of my shows?”
 
Here are FIVE things I came up with that are now a part of my “Edge-Of-Your-Seat” checklist on every single one of my shows (and ACTION ITEMS for you to help you with YOUR shows):
 
1. A super specific SIMILAR objective for BOTH the protagonist and antagonist.
 
One candidate wanted to win the election. The other candidate wanted to win the election. Boom. You can’t get clearer than that.
The “want” for EACH character wasn’t, “To improve his understanding of the word,” or “To gain self-confidence.”  Those may be good objectives but it’s hard to show an audience if your hero has achieved them.
An election is a win/lose. It’s like a boxing match or a basketball game (now you know why Rocky and Hoosiers are so easy to get into). Or a court case (Law and Order, To Kill a Mockingbird, 12 Angry Men, etc.).
 
And when both your protagonist and antagonist have the same goal, the conflict or “counter-objective” is super clear. Because both characters want the same thing, they also want to prevent the other “party” from getting the same thing.
 
ACTION ITEM: What does your protagonist want? Can you make it more specific . . . and if it’s a “internal want,” (e.g. to be a better father), who can you symbolize it with something specific. And what does your antagonist want? Can it be the same thing? Or at the very least, can you make it to prevent the protagonist from getting what he or she wants?
 
2. High stakes? Make them even higher.
 
What was at stake in this last election?
 
Not much. Just a pandemic. The economy. Democracy. Or in simpler terms . . . people’s lives, people’s livelihoods, and the entire country.
 
I mean, can you get bigger stakes?
 
Your story may not be as big as an election, but however high your stakes are, ratchet ’em up as high as you can go.
 
I like to think of my stakes as the bar a pole vaulter (i.e. my protagonist) has to leap over. When I do my SECOND draft, I look at where I set the bar in the first draft. . . and then I raise it up a few more inches. And so on with the third draft, fourth, and on.
 
ACTION ITEM: Write out the answer to this question:  “What will happen to your hero if he or she does NOT get what they want?” Like this:  “If my hero fails, he or she will . . . ” Then make it worse.
 
3. Have a bad guy? Make him badder.
 
However nasty your antagonist may be, make him nastier. Be careful about mustache-twirling cliches (you avoid this by having them do things that you’d never expect – just like what happened in this election and AFTER this election).
 
We know that our audience must feel empathy for our protagonist. One way to accomplish this is by making the antagonist, the person preventing our hero from getting what they want, even more of an a-hole. When we dislike someone, we are more likely to want the other to succeed.
(Oh, I will leave it to you to decide who the bad guy was in this election.)
 
ACTION ITEM: On a scale of 1-10, how much of a bad guy is your bad guy? Add something to your story that he or she does or has done to make him or her worse.
 
4. Think you know what’s going to happen?
 
This election took more twists and turns than a rollercoaster. And that’s how your story should unfold as well! On Tuesday night, it started out one way, then turned another (which kept people up watching late into the night). Then the next day it turned again when the mail-in vote started coming in. Then one network called Arizona. But others didn’t! And then . . . And then . . . and then!  
 
You have to surprise your audience with moments they can’t predict or EXPECT. Most successful stories follow similar structures. But what happens within that structure to keep your audience engaged is fair game.
 
ACTION ITEM: Count the twists and turns in your story. Then add another one.
 
5. Stretch it out.
 
Yes, people want shorter content in 2020. But as this election shows (as well as Les Miz, Angels in America and The Inheritance), there are ways to keep people watching. If you can keep your audience twisting and turning (see #4), you’ll increase the tension, and be able to stretch your story just a touch more . . . which will give your audience an even bigger release when the curtain comes down.
 
There would have been celebrations of the winner of this election around the world regardless of when the race was called. But I guarantee you, the celebrations would NOT have been as big as they were if the race was called on election night.
 
ACTION ITEM: Where in your story does your hero get what they want? Can you add a “But wait,” moment to delay it a touch more? Be careful!  Make sure your audience truly doesn’t know what’s going to happen next, or they’ll get bored. But if you’ve done your twisting and turning right, this could get you an even bigger celebration at the end of your show.
 
Happy drafting!
– – – – –
If you want more advice on how to create award-winning stories, don’t listen to me.  Listen to Pulitzer Prize winners, Academy Award winners, Tony Award winners, and more.  We have them all and 100 other speakers at this weekend’s TheaterMakersSummit in just TWO DAYS!  Get your ticket now. It only takes ONE change in your script to get the attention of a Producer.  Hear what you should do this weekend.  Click here.

Stuck somewhere for another 30 Days? (Who isn’t?) Try this.

Even though some areas of the country are loosening their restrictions a touch, it looks like we’re all still gonna be stuck inside for the next 30 days.

Sigh.

I know, I know, believe me.

And while it’s important to feel all the feelings that we’re ALL feeling about not being allowed to live like we used to live . . .

It’s also important to do what Stephen Schwartz said on my very second livestream:

“We can look at this as an opportunity – that we’ve been given a gift of time we might not ordinarily have.”

At the beginning of every month, we always send out a tweet about our 30 Day Script Challenge, the free program we created to help TheaterMakers get those great ideas out of your head and on to a page (because only then can they get on a stage).

But never before has this Challenge seemed more timely.

Because while things won’t be back to “normal” in 30 days, this gift of time is running out. So if you said to yourself, “I’m going to take advantage of this time and finally write that thing I’ve always wanted to write,” but still haven’t written it . . . sign up for the challenge. It’s free. And what’s the worst thing that could happen . . . you still don’t write it? You end up exactly where you are now?

Now, ask yourself . . . what’s the best thing that could happen? Seriously. What could happen when you finish the script?

The answer?

Anything.

So go for it. It’s free. It’s fun. And it works. Our 30 Day Script Challenge has produced more scripts than we can count from past participants.

The next 30 Day Script Challenge starts in just 3 days, on June 1st, so sign up today. And just think – by July 1st, you’ll have a completed first draft.

Take the Challenge here.

(Oh – we recently surveyed past participants on how to improve The Challenge – and we got some fantastic suggestions from “check-ins,” coaching, “what do I do when it’s done” action steps and more – so I hired Eric Webb, added some tech features, and more to create an “Ultimate” version which you can see here.)

Tonight on the Livestream: Broadway Choreographer, Kelly Devine

I’m still riding the wave of positivity after last night’s episode. Big thanks to Mat and Savanna for joining us last night, and for Sierra Boggess for being our ultimate surprise guest!  And of course, I’m grateful to Lisa Kron for coming on and sharing her tips for writing new stories – even sharing her favorite lyrics and lyricists on Broadway. If you missed this jam-packed episode, make sure you check it out.

And don’t forget, you can go back and replay all your favorite episodes here!

Tonight, I’m sitting down with Kelly Devine, Broadway Choreographer who was in the middle of previews for Diana on Broadway when Broadway shutdown. I’m eager to find out what Diana’s creative team is doing with the show during this ‘extended intermission’.

Tune at 8pm EDT tonight to find out what Kelly is working on. And click here to set your e-reminder.

 

To see the full line-up of guests for the next few weeks visit www.theproducersperspective.com/LIVE.

———–

(If any of you are interested in streaming your concert, workshop, reading . . . or even starting your own livestream series, I highly recommend the platform we’ve been using – StreamYard.  Click here to check them out.)

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