Challenge

Write a play without any actors. It can be an immersive thing? Or perhaps a light and sound thing? Or… uhm… robots (cheaper than actors?) You can still use dialogue. In fact, I insist you do (‘insist’ = ‘don’t really mind if’). OK… let’s say you can afford to hire actors for one day in a recording studio. If you want it. The point is – there are no actors on stage during the run. Got it?

Response

Are you f**king kidding me? No actors? An immersive experience? How the hell do you write that?

No – you know what? I’ll give you your immersive experience. I’ll give you your actorless play. You want it, well you got it!

How about 28 plays later, as inspired by Saw! This…may have gone dark in a few places… Especially as in order for it to be a truly immersive experience you need to kidnap two people.

Result

28 PLAYS LATER (Yes really)

Day 1

Lights up – The stage is set out as a small and cluttered box room with 4 walls and two large metal doors. For the most genuine experience, the participants should wake up in the room with no idea how they got here (although for this to be somewhat legal, they may have to volunteer or at least agree to some extent what they are doing).

The room is littered with various writing implements, such as type writers, laptops, computers, pen and paper etc. In the middle of the room lies a body, with severe head wound, next to a smashed up typewriter. The paper coming from the typewriter should say “Challenge 29…”

There are two audience members/participants in the room and each of them has a computer with Word – however the computer runs on ancient technology such as Windows XP. There are two MAC computers, but if anyone tries to turn them on they instantly short circuit and blow up. The XP computers are currently turned off.

Lights up – A long pause as the participants begin to get used to their surroundings and the potential dead body in the middle of the room.

Static then comes over the speaker; it is the disembodied voice of Sebastian Rex

Sebastian:    Dear writers, the time has come! Wishing you all the best of luck and a final big hurrah for creativity! Challenge 1 – (Distorted voice) Don’t miss the deadline or you will be disqualified. (Normal voice) As you may or may not know, the title 28 Plays Later was inspired by the film 28 Days Later, which was filmed in our beautiful neighbourhood of the Isle of Dogs. Zombies seem to be all the rage at the moment, so lets join the rage.

SLAM

The metal doors start to shake violently as a group of ravenous zombies bangs against it, trying to get in.

‘Seriously? I have to write about zombies?’ I hear you ask. ‘On the FIRST challenge?!’ Well, you can if you want, or you can think of it more abstractly. What does it mean to be un-dead? What is as contagious as zombies? Perhaps a political movement? or a popular craze? In what other ways do humans want to eat humans? Or perhaps you just want to write about zombies. Either way, let those fluffy creatures inspire you. They are fluffy, yeah? I am thinking about the right thing, right?) Oh, and keep it in your neighbourhood! As a bonus for extra points, add yourself as a character to the play. (and points mean prizes. What do points mean? You’re right. Nothing!)

Happy writing

The final sentence of “Happy Writing” comes with a bit of static as the speaker cuts off.

With that the two computers automatically switch on, with that classic Windows XP jingle (Whatever that is) and opens on word. The audience members then have a day to write a zombie play on the computer (yes I mean a day). Once all plays have been submitted we move on to…

 

Day 2

Static comes over the speakers, as the voice of Sebastian Rex rings through the room.

Sebastian:    Right, so yesterday we went for the fantastical, today let’s go for the… uhm… fan-less-tastical! OK. Open your eyes, man! Just open them! What’s going on outside? Something! Look out the window, perhaps on the train, perhaps in your home, perhaps in your office.  Don’t get inspired by people – that’s boring! Try something else. Just look out the window.

A projection of a window pane appears on the screen, the image outside the window is of the traditional Windows stock image of a green hill.

What do you see?  Animals? Buildings? Nature? Elements?

The sounds of these suggestions come through the speakers as Sebastian mentions them.

Write about that. Be inspired by the outside world and make the rest of it up. Make it real, though. Make it about something important! Something you care about. Bonus points if you add to it some words you don’t know the meaning to, especially if it means misusing them.

(With static) Happy writing.

The two audience members/participants then have a day to write the requested play, once they finish and all are submitted, we move onto…

 

Day 3

The Zombies crash and bang against the door, the noise indicates that their numbers have increased.

Sebastian’s voice comes through the speakers – The lights dim

Sebastian:    Everything is so real in theatre today, isn’t it? But I say, if you want things to be real – look outside your window. Who on earth would want to write about what they see out the window? So let’s write something extraordinary.  Create a world, invent characters, construct rules that apply to it, but make it unique.  And add to it something that only you could add! Maybe a rule that only you could understand or something that relates to something that only you experienced. Make this new world special, maybe even name it after yourself, you megalomaniac! For bonus points, try and make it a reflection of the real world, without actually being the real world are you all keeping score of your bonus points? Collect 28 and you can buy 28 bonus points with it!!! Exciting, eh?

(With more static) Happy Writing

Lights up – The two audience members/participants then have a day to write the requested play, once they finish and all are submitted, we move onto…

 

Day 4

The lights change to a cheesy and romantic pink/red state.

Sebastian:    So today’s task is all about love.

Various “Love” songs come on at the same time over the speakers, all of them emphasising on the lyric “love.” (Directors choice on what songs these can be).

What do you love? Maybe it’s someone… maybe it’s something… maybe it’s somewhere… maybe it’s even a friggin’ number! I don’t know! Whatever it is – write about that. About something you love. Yeah! If your food has already began to travel back up your throats just from reading the first few sentences (and I honestly can’t say I blame you) and you’re of a cynical disposition and love nothing – write about that! Yeah! Oh, and make the dialogue super snappy!  No time to waste on love!  Get to the point!

Bonus – have a surprise ending! Surprise yourself. Get to the end and then do something you didn’t expect. A surprise!

 

Pause

 

Yeah…/Happy Writing.

At the same time the recorded voices of the participants loved ones comes through faintly over the speakers

Loved Ones:            /(Overlapping) I love you

Lights back to normal, with the Beatles song “All You Need Is Love” playing faintly for the first 2 minutes of the challenge – The two audience members/participants then have a day to write the requested play, once they finish and all are submitted, we move onto…

 

Day 5

Lights dim

Sebastian:    Writers, well done so far. It’s inspiring to see the amount of creativity and imagination coming out from all your good selves. So onwards and upwards! Challenge 5 – I think you can all probably guess where I’m going to go with this…Yesterday we loved, today let’s hate. What gets on your nerves? Write about that! What do you hate? Write about that! Who do you hate? Write about that! Where do you hate? Write about that! When do you hate? Write about that! In what way do you hate? Write about that! Maybe you hate the 5 w’s I know I do – I hate you – Write about that! Do you even hate? Perhaps you’re too zennish to hate, in which case, a lot of people might hate you – write about that! And seeing as love was all snappy, lets linger with – I hate you –  Take your time to express things. Long thoughts… Perhaps start sentences that take a lot longer than expected to end and that have, I wouldn’t be surprised, lots of clauses and sub-clauses and sub-sub-clauses and other things, a little bit like Victor Hugo or Kant or Kleist, and let sentences go and drift away and perhaps even end in places that are not really connected to where they started, because people who are so deep in thought and talk as if… well, as if they are moving in one breath from one thought to a different thought and being distracted by the trees which are growing outside and are really lovely this time of year, because it’s just before spring and somehow there is a comfortable atmosphere in the air, not too dissimilar to the ones I had when I was away in the Himalayas in a… a dream I once had which was odd, because I never dream and it wasn’t a full moon or anything and I didn’t eat any cheese, which I don’t like so much, except for Brie, because it’s French and it goes really well with wine, which I simply adore, not as much as Whiskey, mind, particularly nice 15 year old single malts from Scotland, and I’m so glad they voted ‘no’ in the referendum because otherwise the entire country could be in chaos and I would be… uhm… sorry. I’ll stop! Bonus – what genre of theatre do you hate the most? Kitchen-sink? Absurd? In-yer-face? Poetic? I dare you to try and write an entire play in a style you hate! Go on I dare ya!

Happy Writing (Whispered) They hate you, hate you, hate…

Lights up – The two audience members/participants then have a day to write the requested play, once they finish and all are submitted, we move onto…

 

Day 6

Lights dim

Sebastian:    They say ‘write about what you know’ I say – ‘Poo to that! That’s not fun!’ Then They and I get into an argument. Punches are thrown, bottles are broken, fists are raised and a knife or two produced.

Fighting can be heard on the other side of the door.

We fight to the death, but I’m writing this email and not They. This is MY competition! I did it – NOT THEY!!!

The fighting intensifies then stops, and the sound of a body slamming against the door is heard, followed slowly by the sound of a horde of feasting zombies.

So for tonight, and tonight only, (Sinister)I win!

Pause

So pick a topic you know nothing about – then write about it! Who cares if it’s not accurate or factual? You’re not writing a documentary, you’re writing a piece of theatre! Your job is to create drama – so do that! Make the story dramatic, surprising, unexpected, moving – if you’re that way inclined – thought-provoking, whatever… but make it theatrical! Bonus points will go to whoever manages to make a play for many actors – what with all the cuts, nobody is writing plays for more than 2-4 actors – go big, go wild. Have a few dozen actors on stage, make each of them be valuable, we don’t want any ‘plant 3’s in da house, do we?! And bully to They!

Happy Writing

The zombies quieten down. Lights up – The two audience members/participants then have a day to write the requested play, once they finish and al are submitted, we move onto…

 

Day 7

Rebecca Black’s Friday BURSTS through the speakers at an ear destroying volume on loop for one hour – after exactly one hour it is cut off by Sebastian’s ppiercing voice.

Sebastian:    So apparently Friday is the start of the weekend, and that apparently means that people apparently are meant to apparently have more time to do things… so with that in mind, and seeing as 6 plays down we’re all warmed up, weekends are going to be tougher: Let’s adapt today.Pick something you’ve written before, maybe a play, maybe a story, maybe a poem, heck, maybe even a letter to a friend. Pick anything, just bloody pick! Now pick that Pick up and pick it apart. Pick where to start, pick where to end, pick where to middle, pick pick pick! Make a play out of it! Don’t miss anything out, yeah? Pick! Your bonus for weekend tasks is just to be happy! Anyone who is pleased with his play gets bonus points! PICK!

Pause

Happy Writing

Lights up – The two audience members/participants then have a day to write the requested play, once they finish and all are submitted, we move onto…

 

Day 8

The Lights shut off

Pause

Spotlight on the two audience members.

Sebastian:    So, we’re a week in, and only 3 more to go! Well done to all of you. I thought I’d also quickly take this time to answer a few questions I keep receiving:

As the recording starts reeling off the FAQ’s, the sound of zombies banging against the door becomes louder and louder, completely drowning Sebastian out. Key phrases (marked in bold) burst through the speakers, as if Sebastian is shouting mere cm’s from the microphone.

As you’ve probably all realised now, there are no confirmation emails. I did try to set up an automatic one – but it only worked for one time. If you are disqualified, you will receive an email informing you. You will then have the option of receiving the rest of the challenges or not – you will have to confirm, as I don’t want to spam anyone. Disqualification does not mean you can’t send plays in – so please do – this challenge is about writing – not about winning! Details of how many people took part in the challenge and how many ‘survived’ will only be revealed at the end. Everyone can find out even if you are disqualified. This is a playwriting competition – so do make sure you send me plays. You’re only cheating yourselves. Format – if you want me to be able to open the files, send either word documents or preferably pdfs. Anything else – I will accept but won’t be able to open. Put this date in your diary – 21st of March – we will be reading some of the plays at the Space. More details about that will come later… and now, onto the second weekend challenge. I promise next one will be easier.

The zombies die down.

Challenge 8… Let’s go free form today. Get rid of all your inhibitions! Write and don’t worry about how it’s perceived. Don’t worry about audience, don’t worry about directors and actors, Don’t even worry about readers. Just write. Something. Or maybe draw? Or take photographs? Make sure it has a beginning, a middle and an end – or don’t! Maybe just re-invent the entire genre. Try to go about it from any angle but the one you understand. Just think about colours, about words. About shapes. Voices, images… anything. And here’s the challenge – however you interpret this task – make sure the piece IS a piece of theatre – whatever you make that to be. It’s a tough one, and might sound confusing – but go wild. Set your minds free. As a little helper, you can make it about something that happened to you today, or not… it’s just to give you something to work with. Happy for you, on this occasion, to send me jpegs of whatever you create, or word files or whatever you see fit – but please make sure files are not larger than 1mb or it probably won’t get to me.

Happy Writing

Lights up

Static for a few seconds.

The two audience members/participants then have a day to write the requested play, once they finish and all are submitted, we move onto…

 

Day 9

Lights up

The sound of crying is heard over the speakers – instantly followed by a sudden cut to intense and psychotic laughter.

Pause

Sebastian:    Guys, I know it’s really hard work and now that we’re in the second week, it’s going to get more exhausting, but I’m super proud of all of you! So keep up the good work. I’m saying this to myself as much as to you. This is tough, man! I almost dropped out yesterday.

SCREAMS

Pause

Anyway, I promised you an easy one today, so here we go: Today I’ll give you the opening line – you just have to do the rest!  (Screaming) “Put the knife down, Linda! Fine, I’ll tell you what he did with the apple!”

Pause

Make it into a monologue, a dialogue, a trilogoue, a quadrologue… this is fun! Whatever you fancy. Bonus points if you end the play with the following line: “Prawns! That’s what it was!”

Pause

Think I’m hungry today…

Happy Writing

The computers come back on.

The two audience members/participants then have a day to write the requested play, once they finish and all are submitted, we move onto…

 

Day 10

A Disco ball comes down from the ceiling, lights shine on it and loud and obnoxious Disco music starts playing.

Sebastian:    (Like a corny DJ) What’s your favourite song? What’s the one song you will play to make yourself happy? Or to make yourself cry? Or to make yourself… uhm… what other emotions are there? Meh, they’re all the same. Redundant! Who needs emotions in theatre? I say, screw emotions! Hmmm…

Pause

Anyway… Excuse the rant, but be prepared for an emotionless task at some point, pick a song, any song! Well, not any song, one that makes you react. Now write about it. Maybe the lyrics are inspiring you, maybe your memories from it? Or maybe an association. Bonus points to anyone who only uses lyrics from the song in the dialogue.

Happy Writing

Abba’s “Thank you for the music plays quietly over the speakers as the Disco bacll ascends back into the ceiling.

Lights up – The two audience members/participants then have a day to write the requested play, once they finish and all are submitted, we move onto…

 

Day 11

Sebastian:    Dumdi dumdi dum… So, like, titles, man, they’re like, you know… like, super important, ya? like, super important! I mean, like… you know… like, titles? You know?! Ya! Like, without titles, things are like… you know, title-less, like, you know? So write a play that cannot be understood without its title. Or perhaps the entire meaning shifts and changes once you know what it’s called. Here’s an awesome example. Have a look at this photo…

A 404 Not Found Error appears on the screen

Look at the bottom of the email, after looking at the picture, to find out what the title is

Static

Bonus for… uhm… hmmm… I don’t know… non sequiturs? Like. Shitloads!

Happy Writing

The image of 404 Not Found Error is then displayed on every single wall for the remainder of the day.

Lights up – The two audience members/participants then have a day to write the requested play, once they finish and all are submitted, we move onto…

 

Day 12

The image disappears from the screen, as the Zombies bang against the door, getting louder and more aggressive.

The lights flicker on and off.

Sebastian:    Man, it’s tough! Again I almost dropped out…but I’m still in…by the teeth of my skin! – so we’re all in it together, yeah?! (Angry) YEAH!

Pause

Compassion… understanding… open-mindness… aren’t we all so fuckin’ awesome (!) But can we be truly tolerant and respectful of people who are wron… I mean, people who have views that differ from ours? Let’s try and see the world from their point of view? All you lefties out there, can you try and right a Tory play? Without being sarcastic, without trying to prove them wrong… Can we write a play from the point of view of an ISIS fighter? What about from the point of view of a misogynist? Hitler? Find your political foes and let’s give them a play – as a token of our co-habitation.

Donald Trump:       (Recording) And giving it back to you, the people.

Bane:                         (Recording) And we give it back to you…the people.

Sebastian:    Bonus points if you can make this the most moving, heart-wrenching play you can. Maybe it even makes you cry whilst writing it…

Happy Writing

Lights up – The two audience members/participants then have a day to write the requested play, once they finish and all are submitted, we move onto…

 

Day 13

Hysterical laughter fills the room, deafening the audience members.

Sebastian:    (Hysterical) 13. That’s it – I’m out!

Screaming

Pause

Hope it only highlights to you all how friggin’ awesome you all are! Although even if you are out – you’re still awesome! Yeah! I promised you an emotionless task, and here it is! So people say that theatre is all about emotions. Making people feel, having characters go on journeys, emotion-this, emotion-that, bla bla bla. But surely theatre can do so much more than just emote. So what happens if we take all those feelings out of the equation? What else can dramatic writing hold if not emotions? Go on? Surprise yourselves! Bonus for anyone who manages to do all that in the realm of a naturalistic kitchen-sink drama.

(Tearfully) Happy Writing.

Lights up – The two audience members/participants then have a day to write the requested play, once they finish and all are submitted, we move onto…

 

Day 14

Lights dim

Sebastian:    Thank you all for your sympathy and for helping my lament my lost £15. Some of you have asked me why I’m out, well, I haven’t actually missed any deadlines, but my last few attempt were so pathetic and could not be regarded as plays, and I refuse to insult all you hard-working writers by not disqualifying myself! Also, I’d rather dedicate my daily dose of creativity to coming up with good tasks and to be able to read more of the plays sent through. Plus, I did this challenge in November…writing 30 plays in 30 days!!! So I know I can do it! Was a piece of cake, by the way. Haha…haha….hahahahahahahahahahahahaha…

Long pause

So it’s the weekend, and we know what that means! This is going to be the hardest challenge of all for most of you, I reckon. Apologies – but the rewards are incredible! Every writer has started working on something and then gave up halfway through. We all have somewhere an uncompleted idea or play. Your challenge for today, should you choose to accept it – is to find one of those ideas and complete them! If you manage to do that – you will become a god! It will be like raising the dead! So go – my little Lazaruses… Lazarusi?… fly like the immortal wind that you… breathed… uhm… life into? I don’t know what I’m talking about. On to the Whiskey.

Happy Writing

Lights up – The two audience members/participants then have a day to write the requested play, once they finish and all are submitted, we move onto…

 

Day 15

Sebastian:    That’s it, most of you are over the halfway mark. This means you only need to do everything you’ve done so far – one more time – and you’re done!

Woo hoo!

Drop a beat!

Rhymes, rhymes, rhymes,

Like Slater did in Peter Grimes

What possible use can they have?

Perhaps to express anger, perhaps to express love

Perhaps as a characteristic or perhaps just a rant

Should rhyming be perfect or maybe just slant?

Where can we rhyme and when should we not?

This challenge will teach us and give food for thought

Write me a play and use rhymes all the time

Can you be clever as to when you will rhyme?

I’ll give bonus points to some epical writing

None of these 2-page dialogues, that aren’t exciting!

Are you up for the challenge? Sure you all are!

Bring it all on, I say, you are a star!

Happy Writing

Lights up – The two audience members/participants then have a day to write the requested play, once they finish and all are submitted, we move onto…

 

Day 16

Lights shut off

Sebastian:    What’s in your head? Zombies?

The zombies bang against the door with more strength; you would swear you can hear cracks.

No… that was from the first task.

The Zombies cease…for now.

But what is in there? Well, the one thing that makes you special and the one thing that only you have, that internal voice that nobody else but you can hear, and now is the time to let it take over your pen or keyboard. So write stream-of-consciousness, and let the words flow, including all the, uhms… and ooohs… and arghs… and anything else that your brain might, oh, what’s that? Hmmmm… That’s a scary clown, at least the flowers are nice. I mean, I’m back! I mean, just get busy and let the words flow. Write a monologue that’s all coming straight from your head without any censorship. Perhaps be brave and write about yourselves, or be less self-indulgent and write about a friend’s story, though keep it all first person. Maybe even time yourselves! 15 minutes should be long enough. Start the clock, start writing, and don’t stop until the alarm beeps! Seeing as this task shouldn’t take you long to write, bonus points to anyone who then edits and re-edits and re-re-edits their text to make it perfect. No more ‘sorry, was in a rush, it’s crap!’ emails – send me a piece of writing you’ll be proud of – something you’ll be willing to submit to theatres!

Happy Writing

A large stop watch appears on the screen, Lights up – The two audience members/participants then have a day 15 minutes to write the requested play, once they finish and all are submitted, we move onto…

 

Day 17

When the timer ends, the alarm screeches through the speakers for a further 15 minutes.

Pause

Sebastian:    I looked at the challenge I’ve come up with, and after spending the entire day getting through all your emails, my brain seems to be dead and I can’t tell if it’s inspired or uninspiring! So just in case, today you have two options for challenges! How many times have we started working on a file, only to forget to save it in time before the inevitable computer crash? Well, what do we have to do then? Start writing the project all over again and rely on our memories. So today’s challenge is designed to work on your memory muscles. Pick a play you once wrote – could be from one of the previous challenges or could be something else. Now, imagine you’ve lost the file completely, and rewrite it from memory. Don’t cheat – you can’t peek at the old document. It’s deleted, remember? Hey, who knows, you might come up with a better version! For bonus points, you can compare the two files, but only after completing the second version and add to it things you’ve missed that you liked from the first version… Or

The computers shut down.

Bleugh… computers… who needs them! Am I right, people?! Hell yeah! Remember the good old days when we used to write plays with a pen on paper? Or a typewriter? The good old analogue days… If some of you are too young to remember what a pen and paper are, please don’t tell me! So let’s go old-skul. Use any old form of writing, be it pen, pencil, typewriter, heck, even a feather quill, and write me a play about why technology sucks! Now comes the ironic bit – how do you send it to me? as much as I love Royal Mail, that might be a bit excessive, so yes… I guess you’ll have to either scan it or photograph it. And I feel like a fool now! Bonus points if you can convince me that asking you to use technology in this task is not a double-standard!

Happy Writing

The two audience members/participants then have a day to write the requested play, using other writing tools, such as pen and paper, or the typewriter, once they finish and all are submitted, we move onto…

Day 18

The Windows XP opening jingle plays and the computers turn back on.

Sebastian:    So, writers – how much rejection do you get? How shitty is it being a writer, eh? Nobody wants to give you work, people constantly ridicule your precious babies and judge them by telling you what’s wrong with them and why you will never succeed, and yet – you still go on doing it. Now, that deserves a round of applause, no?

Applause over the speakers

No!

It stops.

So get writing! And write something better! Let’s write about all this rejection. We all know enough about it to write several novels, let alone a play! Saying that, ars-poetic plays about writers are like so passé, so be creative. Find a new angle into dealing with rejection. Don’t just write about a writer whose being rejected – be abstract! Bonus point to anyone who manages to not write about themselves and their own experiences…

Happy Writing

The two audience members/participants then have a day to write the requested play, once they finish and all are submitted, we move onto…

 

Day 19

Static over the speakers

Sebastian:    (Faintly) Write…

Note for the Director – There is no challenge 19, is it because it is too harsh? Is it because it is too complicated for this play? Is it because I couldn’t find the original email?

We’ll never know.

The idea here is to trip up the audience. They will still need to write a play, but they will have to write something from scratch. If they don’t they will fail, but they won’t realise it to the end.

The two audience members/participants then have a day to write the requested play, once they finish and all are submitted, we move onto…

 

Day 20

Sebastian:    Did anyone else notice that Eastenders is celebrating 30 years today?

Zoe:                (Recording) You ain’t my mutha!

Pause

Kat:                (Recording) YES I AM!

The EastEnders Dum-Dums play over the speakers.

Sebastian:    Just pretty amazing – We are talking about around 3,000 hours of writing! So, not that I want you to write an episode of EE – but what would it be like to write for stock characters? Or perhaps for stock plot lines? Characters from books or from novels or indeed from TV shows already come with personalities, histories and speech patterns, so the work is fairly done for you. And before you dismiss this as being frivolous, isn’t that what Stoppard did with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern? And anyway, all the EastEnders plots are stolen from Shakespeare – which are in turn stolen from the Romans, so what the hell, hey? Oh, and do not be sarcastic about this – take it seriously. Write something worthy! Even if it is soapish. Bonus points to anyone referencing anything to do with EastEnders’ 30th anniversary!

Happy Writing

EastEnders plays on the screen, in silence for the entirety of this challenge.

The two audience members/participants then have a day to write the requested play, once they finish and all are submitted, we move onto…

 

Day 21

A “last orders” bell rings.

Sebastian:    (Drunk) Sending this massively early, as I’ve already had a bit to drink, and god knows what state I’ll be by 10. So, it’s a weekend – you know what that means! Following on from yesterday’s challenge, today we’re going to take it one step further. Yesterday we looked at stock characters and stock plots. Today we’re going to adapt. Find a a short story or a film. Make it into a play – try to ensure it’s all there – all the characters, all the plots, all the small details, all the dialogue. Bonus points to anyone who manages to modernise the adaptation and make it their own whilst still retaining the original. Sounds impossible in one day? Naaaa… you guys are pros at this now!

Images of book shelves appear are projected on the screen.

The two audience members/participants then have a day to write the requested play, once they finish and all are submitted, we move onto…

 

Day 22

Sebastian:    That’s it – final week. Who would have thought you’d make it this far, eh?

The Zombies slam against the door, and for a split second it looks as if the lock was going to break.

Right, so let’s get those last 7 plays down! This task is going to be a real challenge for some of you, but really easy for others, but I noticed that all the challenges have been that way, so not sure why I’m pointing that out now…Let’s be super duper strict. Below are the rules for your play:

  1. The play must contain 4 characters
  2. Two of the characters meet for the first time in the play
  3. Two of the characters kiss at some point in the play
  4. The play has to have 3 scenes
  5. First scene must have 17 lines of dialogue, Second scene must have 20 lines of dialogue, Third scene must have 22 lines of dialogue
  6. Every line of dialogue (for all three scenes) must have one of the following: either 5 words, 12 words, 17 words, 33 words or 87 words (you can punctuate as you see fit)
  7. Each line of dialogue in every scene must start with a different letter of the alphabet (reset for each new scene obviously)
  8. You have 7 pauses (one of which must be a very long pause)
  9. The three scenes have to be set one indoors, one outdoors and one in an abstract space
  10. There has to be violence at some point
    If you aren’t sure you understand any of the rules – go with what you think they mean.

And again, with this being a weekend task – your only bonus is to be happy with the result.

Happy Writing

The two audience members/participants then have a day to write the requested play. The Zombies continue to bang against the door for the entire day. Once they finish writing and all plays are submitted, we move onto…

 

Day 23

Sebastian:     Let’s all relax with an easy one.

The Zombies cease.

Write a play under the title “Secrets and Lies”. You can reveal your biggest secret, you can reveal your biggest lie. or you can just make the whole bloody thing up! Make sure the character has a good reason to reveal it – we don’t just tell people our secrets for no reason, do we? Bonus points for revelations that shock you and change the world forever (either the actual world or the characters’ world)!

Happy Writing

The two audience members/participants then have a day to write the requested play, once they finish and all are submitted, we move onto…

 

Day 24

Sound of uncontrollable sobbing is heard over the speakers.

Sebastian:    (Overly cheery) Oh, dear god, guys, what is wrong? I feel like I’ve broken all of you! Apologies! Come on, only 5 more plays to write! That’s nothing! Remember day 5 of the challenge? All the energy you had, all the passion – bring that back for the final 5! You can do it! You are all so incredible! Keep at it!

Pause

Let’s make up a language! Write a play entirely in gibberish. But why are they talking in gibberish? Do they live in a special land? Maybe they just had a stroke? Are they aliens? or the other kind of aliens? I don’t know! But make up a language. Make sure it all makes sense. Every sentence has to mean something. Bonus points if you make it a compelling drama – doing a comedy in gibberish is a lot easier, no? (Getting more intense) lsnida poopdy! Isnida poopdy klumpparra! koom.

Jiitku Promongum!

The two audience members/participants then have a day to write the requested play, once they finish and all are submitted, we move onto…

 

Day 25

Sebastian:    Actually, when I said I broke you, I think it was a classic case of transference! Bring on the next challenge! Oh, my… so much anger, eh? I can see it all bottled up! So let’s let it out!

He shouts down the microphone until it sounds like his throat has gone raw.

Pause

(Calm) Write an angry play! Release your inner demons and get the world to understand! What makes you angry? Politicians? Bankers? Wars? Your neighbours? Friends? Your partners? Kids? Whatever it may be – write a play and tell the world what to do to solve those problems! Maybe agitprop? Maybe in-yer-face? Maybe absurd? Maybe absurd, agitprop in-yer face? Bonus points for some dreaded audience participation.

Both audience members get an electric shock.

Happy Writing

The two audience members/participants then have a day to write the requested play, once they finish and all are submitted, we move onto…

 

Day  26

Basil Brush: (Recording) A-ha, ha, ha, ha, ha – Boom, BOOM!

Sebastian:    Write a play that only you can understand, and only you can care about. Maybe it’s a private joke, maybe it’s using characters that only you know… Whatever it is, don’t worry about your audience – make yourself laugh, or cry or… have we settled on whether there are any other emotions? Bonus points if seriously – NOBODY but you gets the play!

Happy Writing

The two audience members/participants then have a day to write the requested play, once they finish and all are submitted, we move onto…

 

Day 27

The Zombies are now SCREAMING with rage and hunger. A few more days and they will have worn that chain and broken through.

The Lights shut off.

Sebastian:    Oooh… the penultimate challenge! I feel like I know so much about all of you, so I’ll share back an anecdote: Opening night for my first ever full length run.

A stage is projected onto the screen.

I sit in the audience… Tension is filling the air… Excitement… The lights go down … And as the lights go down, the penny drops!

Pause

I figured out what I needed to do to the play to make it work. And then I had to endure three weeks, full of disappointment! I mean, how frustrating is it when you have to deliver something to deadline, only to realise afterwards what you could have done better. So this is your opportunity to re-do a challenge. Pick any of the previous 26 challenges we’ve done and write a NEW play following that brief. I bet you’ve thought of a few better ideas since sending in your first version. But don’t just re-do the play you did – it has to be a completely different concept! Bonus point if you re-do the challenge you found most… uhm… challenging!

All of the previous plays are shot into the room from the ceiling.

Happy Writing

The audience will need to find and pick one of their plays to re-write.

Lights up.

The two audience members/participants then have a day to write the requested play, once they finish and all are submitted, we move onto…

 

Day 28

The zombies stop banging on the door, but they can be heard groaning in the background.

Sebastian:    28. This is it, guys! I am so proud of each and every one of you!

Hallelujah plays over the speakers

It fades out

Sebastian:    What you’ve achieved is incredible! Writing a new play every day is no mean feat, and for those of you who also managed to follow all the prompts and particularly those who got all their bonus points – you are incredible. The challenges were not easy and you did amazingly well! Keep on writing every day. Make a habit of it – writers write! And that’s what you’ve just proven over the past 28 days! You don’t need me, or this programme or the prompts! Just write every day about something that inspires you. So after the deadline on Sunday, I will email everybody with the official statistics and then give me a few days to sort out payments. And I hope to see you all next year for 29 Plays Later, yep, it’s a leap year! We started with zombies and the apocalypse, so what better way to end than with beginnings.  Write about the start of something, and make it good. Bonus points if you make the play cyclical.

(With intense static) Happy Writing.

The two audience members/participants then have a day to write the requested play, once they finish and all are submitted, we move onto…

 

The Final Day

If the audience managed to complete Challenge 19, and thus have a total of 28 Plays, then a hatch will open in the room and they will be allowed to leave. However if they did not, and they only have 27 plays, this happens…

A long pause

 

Static

Sebastian:    (Distorted) Challenge 29. Adapt a play about zombies, written in stream of consciousness rhyme, using stock characters, inspired by a song and by whatever you see out your window. Make sure the title is surprising, and have the story be about love, hate, secrets and lies. Create a world you know nothing about in which everybody speaks gibberish, go completely free-form with it, and don’t use a computer. Make sure it angrily makes a ‘call to arms’ arguing against things you believe in (no sarcasm there!).

The body in the middle of the room begins to move.

(Becoming more distorted) Have no words or emotions but plenty of rejection. Give yourself 10 strict rules for the structure – or use the ones I’ve already given you – don’t say I’m being too mean, but do start the play with (Even more distorted) “Put the knife down, Linda. Fine, I’ll tell you what he did with the apple” and end it with “Prawns! That’s what it was!”

The body gets to his feet, he takes a long and deep breath.

(More and more distorted) and ensure you are the only one that can understand what it’s about. And here comes the tricky bit.

It turns out the head wound is make up, he pulls it off and reveals he is none other than Sebastian Rex. He walks towards the door, the zombies are banging against the door at an alarming rate.

Don’t finish the play! Instead, put it to one side and re-do the task all over again.

Sebastian pulls out a key and goes to the lock. He puts the key inside.

Only when you finish the second version, pick up the half-completed project and complete it.

Sebastian:    Happy writing.

He turns the lock, the chain falls – the doors burst open and the zombies POUR IN

(These are real zombies by the way, and that is the real Sebastian Rex, who is most probably a zombie as well, therefore they are not actors, therefore I have succeeded in having no actors in this play.) 

Lights down

 

 

 

 

 

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