I’ve written an embarrassing number of plays. When you tell people that you’ve had a play published, they’re usually like “wow! That’s great!” When you tell them you’ve had five plays published, they say, “that’s amazing!” and when you tell them you’ve had 128 plays published they say, “you need to get a hobby. Find something else to do with your time.”
There’s a danger with being that prolific. You can repeat yourself, you can fall into a rut, staying with the same formula that has always worked for you. You can stop growing as an artist. I have striven to keep growing, trying new things, trying to make every play different than the last, but it’s a huge challenge.
That’s why, when COVID hit in March, and all of my in-person productions were cancelled, it was terrible, but also a gift. Adversity is often the parent of creativity.
Suddenly I was forced to throw just about everything I knew about playwriting out the window and start over. I was forced to consider new limitations (and limitations are another gift to a writer) in my work and find ways to create plays that could be done on mediums I had never imagined before—I have no idea what Zoom was in February. By April, I knew a lot about it.
“Adversity is often the parent of creativity.”— Don Zolidis
My first play designed for Zoom was only monologues, because I assumed that would be simplest for everyone. As I’ve continued to learn about how to write this way, however, I’ve grown more sophisticated and more inventive in what can be done.
In adapting HOW TO SURVIVE BEING IN A SHAKESPEARE PLAY, into its Virtual Version, I’ve formulated a number of principles that will guide how I will be working. I’ll discuss each at length in future essays that might help you—all of these apply not only to new digital plays, but any theatrical writing endeavor you might undertake.
5 Playwriting Principles from Don Zolidis:
About the Play:
How to Survive Being in a Shakespeare Play (Virtual Version)
By Don Zolidis
Some day it’s going to happen: You’re going to find yourself on stage, wearing tights, and saying things in iambic pentameter. Face it, you’re in a Shakespeare play, and that means it’s a pretty good bet you’re going to DIE. The Bard is out for blood, but this play is here to stop him! How could Romeo and Juliet survive? Julius Caesar? A nameless soldier in Henry the Fifth? What if King Lear had an emotional support llama and didn’t need to make terrible mistakes? Join us in discovering how a dozen of Shakespeare’s plays could’ve turned out differently! If only they listened...
One-act, 30-60 minutes. 10-50+ actors, gender flexible.
Don Zolidis holds a B.A. in English from Carleton College and an M.F.A. in playwriting from the Actor’s Studio Program at the New School University, where he studied under Romulus Linney. His plays have been seen at numerous theater around the country, including The Purple Rose Theater, The Ensemble Studio Theater, The Phoenix Theater, the Victory Theater, Stage West, The Williamstown Theater, and many others.
Don received the Princess Grace Award for playwriting in 2004 after having twice been a finalist. His plays have received two Edgerton New Play awards and multiple NEA grants among other honors. His plays for young people are among the most-produced in the country and have received more than 12,000 productions, appearing in every state and 66 countries.