Reflections on Drama and Script Writing

In August of this year, I was asked to join my school’s drama group, the RLT (Road Less Traveled) players. RLT does a lot of short sketches that range from funny to sobering, to though-provoking. I was absolutely thrilled at the prospect, and, after thinking about my busy schedule for a moment, responded with an enthusiastic “YES!”

It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

My drama friends were nearly as crazy as I was, and I have so many funny memories of all of them–I’ll catch myself nostalgically retelling a funny anecdote to friends or family and then realizing that no one is going to think it’s quite as funny as I do. I see my friends around the halls, but I don’t have classes with many. It feels a little lonely now that drama season is over. I may never act alongside some of the seniors again, which makes me really sad.

We performed a variety of short sketches–in one of which I was a grandmother with a pretty decent “grandma voice” if I do say so myself–at the Penang Performing Arts Center, where a huge portion of my weekend went towards the end of November. Now RLT season 4 is over… and I don’t know what to do with myself. I have so much extra time. As I write this, it’s about the time when I would normally be at drama practice. This is so strange.

You know what the interesting thing about drama is, though? It’s been a really eye-opening experience for me as a writer. Drama is based solely on dialogue. The rest of the actions, intonations, and blocking is all up to the actors. The author must sacrifice their view of their script to the director and actors–imagine your manuscript’s dialogue being ripped from the story and made into a script. Your setting, characters, and tone will change according to how the actors and director play it out.

While I’m not saying that drama dialogue is terrible realistic (no one reveals their entire backstory with a few lines casually in real life), it’s a reminder to writers that dialogue should have a purpose. It also goes to show that writing drama takes a special kind of talent. I’ve never been very good with short stories, but a drama writer must become the master of short stories to write an effective piece that consists of mostly dialogue. I have a greater respect for those who write plays now (and our drama director AND script writer, Mark Sasse! He has a blog geared towards indie authors here. He’s also a novel writer… someone needs to tell him to calm down.)

In short, I had an amazing drama season full of memories. We’re losing half of our people as seniors this year, and I’m going to miss everyone a lot. Doing drama has also brought the writing aspect of it to my attention. While I doubt I could ever write drama scripts myself (at least, not until I’ve gotten a little better at writing short stories), I have a higher respect for those who do write plays and other script-y things.

I love to act as much as I love to write… it’s too bad I can’t combine those two. Perhaps I’ll give it a go sometime if I have nothing better to do.

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