I Will Steal Your Formatting

mikemariano.com presents:

True Playwright Confessions

A good procrastination tool for any playwright? Reformat your plays!

I recently discovered that there is a semi-standard playwriting format. And none of my plays are semi-standard.

So now I’m reformatting, trying to see if my plays look right when they, um, are right. I can understand certain conventions for stage directions and page numbering, but I’m cool on the use of a serif font. I’d rather go typeface-less than wear Times New Roman.

With formatting in mind, I’ve started to spy on the habits of other playwrights. I want to know how the standard looks in the wild. On Saturday I saw a reading of Anna Moench’s The Pillow Book, presented by Kids With Guns. The reading was wonderfully acted and had many beautifully written moments. The Pillow Book was half-staged and half-read, and as the staged scenes played out, the actors left their scripts open downstage. I angled my head, trying to unlock the secrets of this play’s formatting. You know, instead of actually watching the play.

My snooping continued on Monday. I spoke briefly with one of my co-workers who is also a playwright. When I noticed she had a script open on her screen, I promptly forgot about my work-related question and stared past her at her monitor as she replied. I’m very rude.

Encouragingly, the scripts I imposed myself upon all had slightly different formatting. But for the most part, they bent standard formatting—they didn’t break it like I do. Guess that means another months-long effort to tinker with this website instead of actually writing anything!

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