In March, Andover Central School in Andover, NY, put on a production of my play, Murderous Night at the Museum. An article in the Wellsville Daily Reporter discusses how museum-like exhibits decorated the hallways of the school to extend the setting of the play throughout the school. What a clever idea! I’m sure that was a lot of fun (and also a lot of work.)
People always ask me how I begin drafting my plays. Well, before writing a single word, I make a list of every character in the play. I don’t give any of the characters names until several drafts in, but I write a word or so that describes each character to form a complete character list. I usually create this list on a scrap of paper, and it ends up sitting right next to my laptop until I finish the play.
Here’s what the character list for my latest play looks like (maybe I should begin actually writing soon):
Summer is here, and for the past several years, that has meant one thing: it’s time to start writing a murder mystery comedy.
Every year, I’m commissioned to direct a murder mystery play at a local high school, and for the past four years, I’ve co-written an original play with my brother (and sometimes with a few of the students.) Since I’m busy this summer directing Godspell and with grad school, I don’t have time to collaborate with students. My brother and I will be writing on our own, which hasn’t happened since the summer of 2009 when we wrote A Family Reunion to Die For.
My brother (who lives in L.A.) flew to Jersey for our cousin’s wedding this past weekend, and we spent last night discussing the concept for this year’s show. We work best in the middle of the night, so between 2 and 5 AM, we chatted about how many characters we want, where and when the setting will be, and how we can do something different than we have ever done before.
Without giving too much away during this early stage of pre-writing, we are excited about a few things:
1) For the first time, we are writing a period piece. Instead of a present day setting, we are planning to set this play in the 1940’s. This will be a challenge because we will need to be true to the time in terms of dialogue.
2) We are returning to the dark and stormy night setting that is popular with murder mysteries. It’s been awhile since we’ve done that, and we think the audience will respond well to this more traditional feel.
I’m excited to begin work on this show. The production is slated to open in a little less than five months. …Here’s to many days sitting at the computer!