This Regional Update will shine a spotlight on Columbus-area member Vivian Lermond, whose focus on the genres of short, one-act, and ten-minute plays has garnered her hundreds of productions in the US, Mexico, England, Scotland and Australia. Just this year alone, 31 of her plays have been produced at over 50 venues. A few of her recent productions include Banshee Bungle at The Rasmussen Women’s Theatre in Madison, Wisconsin; Psycho Santa? and Special Delivery, Signature Required, both at the Short & Sweet Festival in Sydney, Australia; and A Summer of Spring at the Secret Theatre Summer One Act Festival in NYC. Lermond has many insights into how to effectively write short plays and will share some of those reflections with Ohio members and the general public alike in her DG-Ohio workshop “The Art of Crafting the Short Play Form” at Columbus’ MadLab Theatre (227 N. Third Street Columbus, Ohio 43215) at noon on Feb. 23, 2020. (Email email@example.com to reserve a space.)
Lermond took a few minutes out of her writing schedule to share a few of her thoughts on the short play form.
Les Hunter: What makes a “good” ten-minute play?
Vivian Lermond: I don’t believe any one element can define it. A personal rule I follow is “write it tight.” When you have ten minutes or less to tell a story, every line has to move the plot forward. I do like to play with dialects, which can add layers to a character’s persona through the rhythm of dialogue. Dialects can also work well in defining socio-economic status, ethnicity, and age demographics, all key to creating unique and credible characters.
LH: What are some elements you look to include in your work?
VL: Conflict with a Capital C. Without conflict, you have nothing to drive the plot. Conflict is the soul of the storyline. I also look to avoid predictability. Audiences love it when we can deliver one of those “I never saw that coming” plot twists. A satisfying resolution is important. A character needs to change and grow.
LH: Why this genre?
VL: When I wrote my first play in 1997, the 30-45 minute one-act was really coming into vogue. Riding on the success wave of one-act productions, I think American theatre companies saw a true potential in the appeal of short form plays and the festival format. They discovered their audiences loved what I call a “Theatre Tapas” - small servings of tasty theatrical tidbits to appeal to a wide range of tastes. The genre soon caught on.
LH: How do you target submission opportunities?
VL: I avoid submitting to theatres that charge submission fees and advocate a “pay to play” scenario, which goes against our DG practices and principles. I check theatre websites to determine if my work might be a fit. If a theatre has an ensemble of young millennials and my script calls for a cast age 50+, submitting there would be a waste of time. I’m also diligent about checking submission opportunities on a weekly basis through NYCPLAYWRIGHTS, The Playwrights' Center, The BBC Writer’s Room, and London Playwrights. Facebook playwright groups are also a great resource. Most of all, share your work and submit beyond the comfort zone of your own community. Believe in your talent. Share it.