Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Writer Wednesdays: Coming out of the Closet

Yeah I know the title is probably misleading. This post is about a new kind of playwriting I've discovered. And by new I really mean as old as the stage.  I'm referring to the historical art of the Closet Drama. In short a Closet Drama is one that is meant first to be read and enjoyed before it's meant to be staged.  There used to be a time in history that when you had something subversive to say that you might get jailed for the first thing that you did was write a play. But you didn't just put this play onstage where any Regular Joe (or Johnny Law) could see it. You wrote it to be distributed and read in the privacy of one's home or read aloud in private parties. Unlike novels or poetry a play just has something extra that begs a reader to engage in the work, or actively participate. If you were planning a controversial rally or trying to distribute subversive ideas that "Da Man" didn't want people to hear a play was the best thing for it.

This play by Victor Hugo was never performed onstage but was so widely known in
it's time that it sparked the style of Romanticism.
Found at mtholyloke.edu
But nowadays Closet Dramas don't have to be controversial anymore, and they're not always just written down and distributed in the ordinary way either. With the advent of social media and the internet several playwrights, (both trained and untrained) have been using The Web to get their work out there using the platforms or Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube. Here are just a few (nowhere near exhaustive at all) examples.

Publicity for "Such Tweet Sorrow" A good Romance isn't dead. Just tweeted
Courtesy of the Gaurdian.co.uk 




  • Such Tweet Sorrow: The Royal Shakespeare Company completely adapted Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet to be tweeted out by several actors telling the romantic play in a new and interesting way. Find it here.
  • A Very Potter Musical: Wanna do a musical adaptation of your favorite movie but are afraid of getting sued? Then film your work and put it online. That's what these people did. They can't legally make any money on their work but they now have GLOBAL exposure as artists. I dare you to find anyone in a crowded room that doesn't know about the musical. Not many playwrights other than Shakespeare can say, "Oh, who's seen my play? Only the Globe!"Find it here.
  • The Girl Who Cried Wolf: Okay, I'm guilty of doing a shameless plug. Last month DragynAlly asked me to write a play that would be published weekly on her blog The Dragyn's Lair for her readers. I wrote a short and sweet play called The Girl Who Cried Wolf. It was my first foray into writing a closet play and found a lot of tricks and techniques that make plays easier to be read. While I'll eventually be producing a staged production of it later next year I will always know that it's first stage was inside people's minds. Find it here.
A Very Potter Musical. Even it's "least popular" post got over a million views.
Courtesy of Team Star Kid Productions. 

Final Thoughts

So what do we take away from all of this? Well the most important thing is that playwrights don't need to wait to get a production anymore to get their work out there. If you want the World to see what you're capable of and other theatre companies to get acquainted with your work writing a play that everyone can see and costs nothing to distribute will be great! 

The new form of Closet Dramas are still new so all of the rules and techniques are still being written. That means that the work that you do now will help change the face of the art form in the future. Who doesn't think that's cool.

Think I'm dead on? Think I'm way off base? Shoot me a comment below.

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