28 Plays Later

Hello, Debs here! Thought I’d do you a blog as I’ve just completed my second 28 Plays Later challenge which means that during February this year I wrote, well, 28 Plays.

I suppose the most obvious response to this information would be to ask “why?” – a question I asked myself on several occasions during the challenge whilst hunched over my laptop at odd times of night, furiously typing away at that day’s play.

I’d completed it last year, so it’s not like I didn’t know what I was letting myself in for; I was very well aware that the challenge is, er, a challenge. Every evening at 10pm you get a prompt and are given 36 hours in which to respond with a play. The prompts range from the very specific (“use this as the first line of your play”) to the fairly vague (“take your inspiration from Björk”) so naturally some of them push you a long way out of your comfort zone.

In 2018, I was pleasantly surprised to wind up with a few pieces I was fairly proud of (some of which were read at Baron’s Court Theatre last year – recordings here). Not all of them, you understand – there were a few plays that have been consigned to the depths of my hard drive never to be seen again! Fortunately, there’s nothing in the rules to state that your plays have to be good….

This year, I decided to do something a little bit different. I am currently in the development stages of a new project and busy exploring my characters to see how they bounce off each other, what makes them tick, etc. One of the best way to do this is to take them out of the story world that you’ve built for them and drop them into other situations to see how they react – trap them in a lift, make them go on a long car journey, that sort of thing.

Having signed up to do 28 Plays again; I decided to kill two birds with one writing prompt and use my fledgling characters in this year’s plays wherever possible. Without wishing to blow my own trumpet, this was one of my rare moments of genius.

Now that I’m out the other side, I have a decent grasp of who my characters are and how I can best work with them. Which is a very good thing, as there’s going to be a reading of said project on 25th April in Blackwell’s Oxford (more info here).

But back to the 28 Plays Challenge. It is a challenge, there’s no doubt about that; but I’ve surprised myself with the standard of work I’ve achieved. And by that I mean that some of them are actually quite good! There are a few from both years that I’ll be developing, some that I’ll be adapting for other media, and some that I just really like.

Will I be doing it next year? Ask me again once I’ve got some sleep….


PS Here are my 2019 stats:

  • I wrote 174 pages (an average of 6 per play) consisting of 38,987 words and 120 characters – 42% of whom were female, 22% were male, and 36% were neither, both, or unspecified.
  • My average time for submitting my plays was 9.53pm so just shy of 24hrs after the prompt. The latest I left it was 1hr and 9mins before the deadline.
  • My shortest play in terms of word count was #3, the iambic pent play, although it wasn’t my shortest number of pages due to the verse formatting. My longest was the autobiographical one, apparently I have rather a lot to say about myself.
  • 12 of these involve characters I’d pinched from other projects who will now be re-written in light of how they worked in these plays.
  • My personal favourites are No 5 & No 11 with an honourable mention going to No 25 which I also quite like.
  • I didn’t keep track of how many coffees I drank. I’m quite glad I didn’t…

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