Only 60,000 Milliseconds


The Brief

So this week is all about the magnificent BBC Radio, with a particular eye on writing for audiences.

Today you will have a choice between BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio 3 – Best known for its classical content, which constitutes about 85% of its scheduling, this station also plays jazz, world music, new music, arts programmes and even has a weekly slot for drama. Most famously worldwide, this station is the home to the Proms and it broadcasts more live music than any other network.


BBC Radio 4 – Dubbed by some as a station for the “middle-class, liberal elite”, this is an all-speech station that discusses and presents topics ranging from current events, art, comedy, entertainment, religion, philosophy and almost anything, really. It is also the home to many playwrights, as it presents a substantial amount of new drama.


For bonus points – and seeing as both stations’ demographics are fairly similar, perhaps try to bridge some gaps. Create a piece of populist theatre that still takes its inspiration from these slightly more “high-brow” stations. Can we create a piece to bring together Radio 4 Listeners and Daily Mail readers? Can we bring together Radio 3 listeners and One Directioners (they’re still a thing, right?)


The Excerpt


Alright, welcome back, everyone to Only Sixty Thousand Milliseconds. This is the game where each of our players will attempt to speak on a given topic for sixty thousand milliseconds without hesitating, deviating, repeating or Shatnerizing.


All hail Shatner! All hail the Shat!


As well, we have one rule that no one’s allowed to break, and that’s Wheaton’s Law. What’s that law everyone?


Don’t be a dick!


Right, so what that means is that while you will be buzzed for any of the four listed infractions, you are allowed to repeat the words in the topic, and you’re allowed to re-use common words like a, an, the, and, or, is, et cetera. If you are buzzed out and the reason is valid, the person who buzzed you gains a point and takes over the topic and remaining time. If the reason was invalid, the original speaker gains a point and keeps the topic. If you aren’t buzzed out you keep speaking until you hear the timer go, and if you’re still speaking at the end of sixty thousand milliseconds, you get a point for that, as well. Are you ready to play?


To Read the Entire Play

Click Here: 1902.19 – Only 60000 Milliseconds

Dead Rock Stars



The Brief

So this week is all about the magnificent BBC Radio, with a particular eye on writing for audiences.

Today you will have a choice between BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 2

BBC Radio 1 – “Where it Beings” – this station is aimed at an audience aged 15-29, playing mainstream music, with a focus on entertainment and music that is “the sound of now”. About 4,000 new songs are played every month. It also includes news, documentaries and advice for young adults.

BBC Radio 2 – “The Home of Great Music” – this station is aimed at an audience aged 35-55, mixing all genres of music, current and oldies, covering things from live concerts to religious output and social action campaigns.

You can also choose Radio 1Xtra – a digital station aimed at an audience aged 15-24, that plays contemporary Hip Hop and RnB with a strong emphasis on new and live music.


The Excerpt


Yes, you do. You do it all the time. Every time there’s some dead-rock-star song on the radio, you do it.


(growing exasperated)

Jill, I honestly have no idea what you’re talking about.


JILL returns her seat to its upright position in as passive-aggressive a manner as is possible.

You… were just doing it in the car, and you did it in the grocery store. You… you bop around and act cute, like you want people to see you, and it’s horribly embarrassing and you do it on purpose!


‘Bop around and act cute?’


Yeah, you know… dancing to the radio while driving. Dancing to the music in the store. But never the good music. Like this station… seriously… dead rock stars is all they play…


To Read the Entire Play

Click here: 1902.18 – Dead Rock Stars

Hope it Gives You Halal

Organic Falafel Stand - NYC Street Fair - 9-1-12


The Brief

Today I’ll give you the opening line – you just have to do the rest!

And here it is:


“Get your filthy hand off me, JJ, the falafel is burning and after what your ferret did to the doctor, I think you have a lot of explaining to do!”


Make the play as long or as short as you like!

Use as many or as few actors as you like!

In other words, do what you like!


Bonus points if you end the play with the following line:

“If I see your red-tailed donkey in the shopping centre one more time, I’ll send the geese to eat your kids.”


The Excerpt

FATIMA:        (angry) Well, Mama isn’t here now. (realizing, quietly) And Daddy isn’t either. Oh, Jay, I miss them, too. Mama can’t come back to us, ever, but at least Daddy is alive and well and not in ICE custody like so many others. And at least they left us a way to pay the bills.

Fatima peers through the window and determines that those final customers have left. She kills the lights in the parking lot and turns off the OPEN sign.

FATIMA:        Go bus those last couple of tables, will you, and I’ll shut down in here, and then we can go home. Kevin’s making chili tonight.

JJ:                     (brightly) No leftover shawarma?

FATIMA:        (affectionately) No leftover shawarma.


To Read the Entire Play

Click Here: 1902.17 – Hope it Gives You Halal

Universal Truths



The Brief

  1. You must have at least 6 characters in the play. 3 in the first act and 3 in the second act. 3 actors must double these 3 parts, and there needs to be a good reason for it. If you are gendering any of the characters – the actor playing that character must play a different gender in the second act. Feel free to add more characters in either acts if you want.

  2. One character loses their hair throughout the show, two other characters swap clothes at some point.

  3. There must be no less than 3 pauses and no more than 7 pauses throughout the play – each of them at a different length.

  4. One of the scenes revolves around a piece of garbage that was brought inside by the second character to speak in the play.

  5. Every line of dialogue must have one of the following: either 6 words, 17 words, 31 words, 33 words, 66 words or 101 words (you can punctuate as you like).

  6. Each of the two acts has at least 3 scenes in it, and each scene must have a minimum of 12 spoken lines in it. Except for the last scene – that must have a minimum of 24 spoken lines in it.

  7. One of the characters pushes two of the other characters for two different reasons.

  8. One character sings a song; one character dances a dance; one character paints a painting; one character plays the trumpet; two characters play Scrabble.

  9. Every scene should have a minimum of 5 descriptions and 5 stage directions.

  10. All the characters have to have names – all the names have to have a symbolic meaning behind them. And a character can’t speak the first letter in their name!


The Excerpt

KATE:                                 (cheery, she and GEORGIA really are best friends, even if the artsy doesn’t always like the brash, brassy actress) Why, just super, sweety. And yours?

GEORGIA:                         Oh, you know. Painted a lot…

KATE:                                 Flirted with my brother a lot…

GEORGIA:                         (blushing) It’s possible there was mutual flirtation.

KATE:                                 Oh, I don’t doubt it. You two are perfect for each other. Armstrong, darling are you using your words yet?

ARMSTRONG:                   Dwi-bon ke-bop, bop, be bop boom.

KATE:                                 (drily) I guess not. So, anyone hungry? I’m craving Chinese, and the place around the corner’s open late.  I’m willing to treat, but if you want beer, you’ll have to play me for it.

GEORGIA:                         Hands of poker for free beer?

KATE:                                 Cards’re for geezers and frat boys, Georgie-licious. You want booze, you have to beat me at Scrabble.


To Read the Entire Play

Click here: 1902.16 – Universal Truths

Paper Straws: A Lifetime of Activism

Paper Straws

The Brief

Today’s brief comes to us from the incredible Guerrilla Girls.

A while ago I saw one of their art works and asked them if they would be willing to let me send it to you. They were! So here it is. It’s a video. Your brief for the day is to watch it, and to respond to it! Respond to as many (if not all) of the points they are making. Create a piece that really makes a difference!


And if you don’t know about The Guerrilla Girls, please check them out! They do amazing work.


Remember, this is a weekend task, so take your time – changing the world requires effort!

And as always with weekend challenges – the only bonus points is for you to write something you’re happy with.


The Excerpt

So, I bought this bag of paper straws, and I could feel the casher looking at me, like, here’s some white woman with colored hair buying designer straws, and she thinks that’s gonna change the world.

But the thing is.

I’ve been changing the world all my life.

For example.

I am three years old. I hear my grandmother speak in whispers about how some woman I don’t know is a (whispers) lesbian (normal voice) and I don’t know what that means, so when Mommy gets home from work, I ask:

“Mommy, what’s a lesbian?”

And Mommy says, “well, when two men love each other, they’re gay, and when women love each other, they’re lesbians.”

And in my three-year-old heart, this is perfectly natural, so I say, “Well, I must be a lesbian, too, Mommy, because I love you.” And Mommy laughs and says, “You keep thinking just that way.”

To Read the Entire Play

Click here: 1902.15 – Paper Straws – A Lifetime of Activism

Love is a Place: An e e cummings’ poem, in the style of Mummenschantz



The Brief

There’s so much noise in the world it just makes you want to scream – but then… all you’ll be doing is just adding more noise! So how is that helpful?

If you live in a city – you have all the city noises.

If you live in the country – you have noises from nature.

So the challenge today is to help those suffering from Misophonia… write something without any sound whatsoever. Not just without dialogue – but actually soundless. No foot steps… no breathing… no nothing! Complete and utter silence!

Is that possible?

Hmm… sounds a bit too simple… and we’re already so advanced! So let’s add another layer to it- what’s the loudest form of theatre?


A pantomime!!!


The Excerpt

The display on LOVER’s tablet is a ticking clock.

LOVER mimes RAIN followed by SUN.

LOVER’s tablet displays each in turn.

LOVER mimes a plant growing up from the ground.

LOVER’s tablet displays a blooming flower.

LOVER touches their heart, then mimes looking at the flowering plant, then touches their heart again.

LOVER’s table displays a plant with a heart growing from it.


To Read the Entire Play

Click Here: 1902.14 – Love is a Place

Opportunity Knocks: (The Mostly True History of a Young Rover on Mars)

NASA Opportunity

The Brief

Anyway… onto the brief – with all this “fake news” claims going on, why don’t we jump on the bandwagon. After all, my mama always said, “if ya can’t fight ’em, join ’em”


So write a “fake news” play or a “fake history” play. I mean, Shakespeare did it to appease his monarchs, but we will do it to appease our own monarchs… those in our heads!


The Excerpt

SPIRIT:           (v/o weak) Oppy… Oppy, can you hear me?

OPPY:             Spirit? Sis, is something wrong?

SPIRIT:           (v/o) I… my solar cells aren’t… can’t… echarcge…

OPPY:             (alarmed) Spirit? I can’t understand you. Where are you? I wish I could see you… I miss you…

SPIRIT:           (v/o using her last strength) Listen, little brother. You’re gonna have to be strong. There’s… there’s another rover coming in a year or two, but until then… you’re gonna have to just focus on the mission, and remember I love you, and I’m always with you… (she chuckles) in spirit.

OPPY:             (crying) Spirit? Spirit, no! Don’t leave me alone! Please don’t go. Spirit! Spirit! (singing) We… are… stardust… we are golden… (breaks off crying.)


To Read the Entire Play

Click Here: 1902.13 – Opportunity Knocks




The Brief

So who needs the pain of actually getting dressed – as long as we can post it on to the instagram, that’s enough, right?

Let’s write about that. What does it mean to get dressed in 2019 when you can just buy digital clothes.

Don’t make it a Black Mirror-esque play, though. Maybe instead of fearing the technology and its consequences, make it into something positive.

For bonus points – use the medium and lets get all modern with our forms as well. Abandon old fashioned things like pens… papers… word files… maybe write the play on the inter web… on the social medias… in a VR tool? I don’t know. That’s for you to figure out.


The Expert

This is another brief where my age gap was showing and I really didn’t connect to it. Instead, I wrote a one-act that talked ‘around’ the subject.

HE:                  Seems extreme.

SHE:                Not to me. But it almost – almost – makes me glad we never had children.

HE:                  You don’t mean that.

SHE:                No. Not really. (beat) Digital clothes though. I mean I thought it was crazy when I found out people were spending real money to buy virtual outfits for their characters on Second Life. I mean… really?

HE:                  It’s no different than me wanting to spend money on gear for my characters in the games I play.

SHE:                And if you’ll recall, I have a big problem with that, too. I think it’s absurd. It’s a cash grab, and I’m not sure it’s healthy. I don’t remember anyone charging real money to write bits of working code when our gaming consisted of MUSHes, MUXes, MUDs and MOOs.


To Read the Entire Play

Click here: 1902.12 – Hyp@critical

Storm Head (script)

Zombie Attack by

The Brief

We are who we are and it’s time to embrace what that is!

Write a body-positive play and inspire the whole world to love themselves!

Love all shapes! Love all sizes! Love all people no matter what they look like!

Come on, everybody! Let’s make this world a better place with more beauty!


The Excerpt

It should be noted… I did a body positive monologue for the truth & art challenge last year that I’m so proud of that I couldn’t possibly touch. So I sort of subverted the brief with this.

ROGER:         No more headache?

AUDRA:         Uh-uh. No more brain, either. (sing-songy) I need a new brain. One that works when it should. One that won’t crave cats. One that feels so good. I need a new bra-ain.

ROGER:         Ah, I see we’ve reached the boudoir cabaret part of the evening. Sleep, sweetie. Fort and I will keep you safe.

AUDRA:         (tired) You won’t let me leave the bed?

ROGER:         We won’t. Not before morning.

AUDRA:         And you’ll make sure Mrs. Fletcher’s cats are safe tomorrow?

To read the entire play…

Click here: 1902.11 – Storm Head

Southern Discomfort



The Brief

Pick one of your favourite characters of all time.

Perhaps from a play, a film, a book, a comic… anything.

But pick someone with very little background. Someone we don’t know much about. So probably not a character that is the hero… or one we’ve been following since birth.

Because it’s on you to create this character’s “origin story”.

Who are they? Where did they come from? What made them become who they are? What made them behave the way they did?

Give them the story they deserve! Don’t forget – you love them after all.


The Excerpt

MEGAN:        You’re still here, hat and all.

SIDNEY:        (rising to his feet) Well, I don’t often get to share a glass of homemade iced tea with an attractive woman in the moonlight.

MEGAN:        (snorting a derisive laugh) Don’t go there. You’re not even…

SIDNEY:        Human? I am now. As much as you are. Maybe more.

MEGAN:        (handing over the glass) Here. (grudgingly) Anyway, it’s NesTea. (she backs up against the opposite pillar of the porch roof, leaning against it. She sets her own glass on the rail as she listens.)

SIDNEY:        Thank you, anyway. (he takes a long drink, grimaces, and then smooths his features. So.

MEGAN:        So.

SIDNEY:        So…?

MEGAN:        So, are you? The Devil?


To Read the Entire Play…

Click Here: 1902.10 – Southern Discomfort