August approaches and with it, the terrifying prospect of writing 31 plays in 31 days.
The challenge is just what it sounds like and is the brainchild of Rachel Bublitz and Tracy Held-Potter, Berkeley-based playwrights with a savvy sense of meaningful theatre challenges. It’s also sponsored by Play Cafe, a Berkeley-based playwright group. For a thumbnail sketch of what the project is, check this snippet from the website:
1. Each play should, by your standards, have some semblance of being a complete play. The length, structure, presence (or lack of presence) of a through line, and all of the other “rules” about what makes a “good” play are all subject to your whim.
2. Submit the work that you’re not happy with. We don’t care if your characters are believable, if your plot is plausible, or if your ending is satisfying. We just want you to write a bunch of stories in a fixed period of time. We won’t publish or perform anything without your permission.
3. Do your best to submit one play per day. Although you will be able to submit everything at the end of the month, you’ll be more likely to keep up with the project if you submit frequently and regularly.
4. Create space in your day to write. Consider scheduling specific times to write each day or writing alongside a friend to make sure you follow-through on your commitment. (Yes, you can collaborate on plays with other writers, and you can each submit the same play as part of your 31 plays in August.) We are really excited that you’re interested in participating in this writing challenge. We’re as nervous as you are about figuring out ways to succeed in writing 31 plays in 31 days, but we know we can do it, and we know you can, too. Honestly, this project is about helping us overcome the things that get in our way. Whether or not you follow our guidelines or write 31 plays, this project will give you a chance to stretch your playwright’s muscles. Go for it!
And go for it I shall.
I’ll be honest and up-front in admitting that I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. The challenge here will be an excellent opportunity for me to run screaming out of my comfort zone, as my approach to writing is typically to carry an idea around for months and then blast a draft out in two or three days. Setting aside space daily for me to jot down a complete idea smacks of a certain growing experience that will either open up new ways to develop stories or confirm that yeah, I’m better suited to explosive writing binges rather than gradual accretion.
I thrive under pressure, or so I’ve told every job interviewer I’ve encountered. Blundering into this project I go, focusing on my breathing and cracking my knuckles. Let’s do this.
Keep your eyes peeled: I’m being interviewed by the gang running the project, and will post a link when it’s up. Also, I’ve created an Alpha profile for a warm-up project we’ve been asked to participate in: for 5 days, we’re writing 256-word plays via Alpha’s social media machinery. Feel free to follow the carnage there, if you please.
The future’s so bright, I gotta write plays.