Recently the St Croix Falls Festival Theatre hosted a writing contest for grown-ups. They asked people to write a play that 1 minute long, and they read the best ones aloud on YouTube. So I wondered: What would a 1-minute play festival for kids look like?

So let’s write some 1-minute plays! Your play will probably be only one or two pages long. You will need:

  1. One or two sheets of paper, a pencil, and an eraser;
  2. A favorite folktale to tell.

Your folktale should have a main character; a few additional characters; a problem for your main character to face; and a place and time where the story happens.

To write a play, you describe what you want each actor to say and do in a script. The actors would read the script, and say the lines and do the actions described. For example, if I am making a play out of the story of the Tortoise and the Hare, the tortoise is my main character, the hare and the animals watching the race are the supporting characters, the problem is that the hare’s boasting annoys the other animals, and the place is the forest. It’s also a good idea to make a list of the main events in the story: Hare annoys the animals, tortoise challenges hare, they agree to race, they start the race, hare gets far ahead, hare takes a nap, tortoise passes hare, tortoise nears the finish line, hare wakes up, hare tries to catch up, tortoise wins the race, hare finishes second, hare realizes that sometimes speed is not the most important thing.

I might start by writing:

Hare (bounces onto the stage): I’m the fastest animal ever! No one can compare to me! What do you need? A lot more speed! (laughs)

Tortoise (slowly comes out from behind a rock): Is that so?

Hare (jumps): Who said that?

Tortoise: I did.

Hare (finally sees Tortoise): Oh, there you are. Why yes, my friend Tortoise, you need a lot more speed if you want to keep up with me! Although…(smirks) I’m not sure all the speed in the world would help YOU, slow-poke!

I’ve shown the hare being annoying, I’ve shown the tortoise challenging him, and in the next few lines the characters would agree to race. The fun of making a play out of a favorite story is not in telling what happens, but in showing exactly how it happens. You don’t just get to say, “The animals agreed to have a race,” you get to choose exactly what words they used as they made the agreement, and show how each one felt!

Remember, for a 1-minute play, you only need a page or two. Happy playwriting!

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