Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Joe McKenna has run into a problem and the playwright is angsting

I'm in angst - again.

In spite of a concerted effort to finish my "Old Soldiers" play in the hope of entering it in the BBC International Playwriting Competition, I've encountered a new and unexpected problem. Content is fine. Flow is fine. Story line is interesting.

"Now what, Eleanor?" Joe is asking me. "How much longer are you going to keep us waiting? We ain't gettin' any younger."

I know, Joe! I know!

Today for whatever reason, I decided to check the rules in as far as the number of pages and characters allowed.

"All scripts submitted must be a minimum of 45 pages of A4 paper (or equivalent) and a maximum of 65 pages (note, a rough guide is a minute per page; please read and time your play before you send it). The play should have a maximum of six central characters (there may be up to 3 small "doubling" characters too, who don’t have more than a few lines each). Your script must be accompanied by a short synopsis which outlines the complete story of the play. This must be no more than 400 words."

The way that I view it, there could be and then again, maybe not, more than six main characters. Thing is...it's all in one's definition of "main characters." Do main characters re-occur throughout the play? How does one define a "minor character?" There are, give or take a character, nine characters in total. The play opens with the four old army buddies, who definitely fall into the main character category. Then there are other lesser but not necessarily main characters who come-and-go but contribute to the over-all plot of the play. Eliminating one or two in my mind, would ruin the flow of the play. Everyone has a part to play - excuse the pun.

I've reached the 45 page mark, which is in itself an accomplishment. Really in a quandry as to how to proceed. Usually, when in doubt, I would send off an e-mail and ask for a clarification but after a check on the BBC site, this isn't an option. Maybe the best thing to do is to finish the play, submit it and put it in the hands of fate. Do I have a choice?

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