Your life on stage – writing your script

Have you ever considered putting your life on display? Opening yourself up and inviting in complete strangers to join you on your journey? I have always been a storyteller but I have no acting knowledge or experience. When I decided to write a play and perform it, I had to learn to write in a new way.

Here are the steps I took to create the script for The Devil’s Daughter premiering at the Vancouver Fringe 2019.

Have a story

This one is easy. Everyone has a story. I know you have a story. In fact, you probably have several. We all have a story worth telling. Storytelling and sharing our stories is deeply rooted in our humanity. It is how we build connections and community.  I have lots of stories so for this show, I am starting at the beginning, my early life.

Capture your story

I started by writing my story down but you don’t have to do that. You can start by telling your story orally. In fact, oral storytelling is a much older tradition than writing. You can tell your story at open mics, storytelling competitions, at parties, with friends. Anywhere someone will listen, you can tell your story.

Get a coach

I have a voice and speaking coach, Danielle Benzon who has helped immeasurably. I have unlearned the bad habits and silencers that were part of my upbringing. And I have gained confidence and found my voice. I have learned to play with the stage rather than fear it. (Not that I don’t get nervous!)

Take a course

I took a course in creating a solo show with TJ Dawe at Langara College who walked his students through all the options, encouraged us and stood by us as we dug into our lives and brought our bits of coal to the classes. Slowly we made diamonds.

Write your script

I work-shopped most of my script with my coach who became my director. We would take a story idea, and improvise it while recording it. Then I would listen back and write it out, editing as I went. I did consider transcribing the video but decided that listening and writing it down gave me the opportunity to revise and edit as I went along.

Time it and revise

My show is an hour long and my script was about 15 minutes too long. I reworked scenes to cut back as much as I could.

Get feedback and revise again

Once my second (or was that my third or fourth?) was complete. I asked TJ Dawe to dramaturge. After receiving his feedback, I revised the script again. Then I read each act at an open mic to get feedback from the audience. Once again, I revised the script. Then I asked Mattias Martens, who is an author and wordsmith to dramaturge. After that, I revised the script for the last time. Each revision was another rewrite. During this process, we shaved off more time from the script. In fact, we nixed an entire scene.

Edit the script

After you have all your feedback, edit the script ruthlessly. Revisions are big changes. Editing is about polishing each word. Why is each word there? I edited as much as I could. I knew that I was too close to see all the errors of my ways (of writing) so I asked some people to group edit with me. We did that over three excruciating evenings.

Celebrate

It felt good to hold a complete script in my hands. It was time for a celebration.

Play written, now I must memorize and rehearse. Let the next stage begin!

Have you ever considered doing a solo show or writing your memoir? What would you like to tell us about your life?

Like this? So will your friends.

2 Comments

  1. Cynthia Sharp

    Inspirational! Can’t wait to see your show at the Fringe Fest!

    Reply
    1. MelodyOwen

      Thank you!

      Reply

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