Shakespeare of short plays – Q&A with Alex Broun.

I recently caught up with award winning playwright Alex Broun, who is well known for his work with the Short + Sweet play festival which is now running in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and several countries overseas.


Short + SweetAlex is offering an Discount for his course:  Receive a $50 discount off the Full Course price – so get the whole course for just $150 – but be quick as places are strictly limited. For more details: SPECIAL OFFER: ALEX BROUN Ten Minute Playwrighting Workshops in Brisbane  I recently caught up with award winning playwright Alex Broun, who is well known for his work with the Short + Sweet play festival which is now running in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and several countries overseas. Alex will be running his acclaimed Ten Minute Playwrighting course from August 5th to 7th at Metro Arts in Brisbane, which is a great precursor if you want to submit any of your plays for the Short + Sweet festival.
I asked Alex to give us a little insight into writing for the short play form.
What are your plans for the workshop in Brisbane?Over one intense and fun weekend I’ll be working with local writers to introduce them to the concept of ten minute plays and also developing the skills they need to write for the theatre, specifically concentrating on what I think are the five key areas of playwriting – Character, Dialogue, Story, Dramatic Tension-Humour and perhaps most importantly Theatricality. 
Writing for the theatre is very different from writing poems or prose or writing for TV and film – and this is what I explore in the workshop.
In the scope of 10 brief minutes, just how does one — actor or director, build a character or storyline? There isn’t a lot of time for background and needless exposition in a ten minute play. The writer needs to know their character very well then put them in a situation where they act and react and we learn about them by what they do and say – rather than what they tell us about their history or lives.
It’s fun for the audience as well as they are often thrown right into the middle of a situation and they need to work out what is going on and who are these people – and by the time they’ve done that the play has changed again. In a ten minute play the audience really has to engage their minds and use their imagination. It’s a great wake up call for audiences, fun and invigorating.
In ten minute plays you don’t get two hours to introduce the characters and build to the climax. We throw the audience right into the climax and let them work things out for themselves. It’s a thrilling, fun and intoxicating recipe for theatre.
What is the secret to a good ten minute play?The secret to a good ten minute play is choosing a story you can encapsulate fully in ten minutes. Like Hamlet is a story that needs three hours to tell, a ten minute play chooses a story that needs ten minutes stage time.
It grips you right at the start and doesn’t let go right until the final second. A good ten minute play will also take you in surprising directions like a roller-coaster you grip on to as it takes you on a wild unpredictable wide. 
The great thing about ten minute plays is you cut straight to the chase. Go right for the knockout blow. And I think in our fast paced, time-poor, hi-tech modern world I really believe ten minute theatre is the answer. I often see longer plays and think does this really need to be 70 minutes or two hours. Couldn’t they have said that in ten minutes.
Or is the idea more concept-based such as your very successful play ‘10,000 cigarettes’ in which the central character is the cigarette?Plays can be concept based or character based. In ten minute plays we strive to present a diverse selection of theatrical styles – comedy, drama, physical theatre, romance, thrillers. And we have discovered that all styles can work in ten minute plays.
Did theatre for you begin as a hobby or did you always know that you were interested in pursuing this full time? I began writing plays when I was 14 and have always been very passionate about the artform. But it is difficult for artists and theatre companies to survive financially, even in Australia. That is another reason why ten minute plays are great as people who make a living outside the theatre can writer, act or direct in a ten minute play and they can fit in the commitment around their work schedule.
How many plays have you written and how many have you had staged worldwide currently?I have written over 100 ten minute plays. To date 75 of these have been produced in over 500 productions around the world. My most successful play, 10,000 cigarettes, has been produced over 100 times including in over 40 states of the USA. For more information: Course Information:  To register or contact Alex Broun:e: [email protected] m: 0408 268 043

Bobbi-Lea Dionysius

Bobbi-Lea is's QLD Co-ordinator, writer, reviewer, and reporter. She is also an actor, presenter, and theatre/film producer for Drama Queen Productions in Brisbane. Bobbi-Lea holds a Degree in Music Theatre as well as a Degree in Film & TV, and is currently doing her Masters in Screen Production.

Bobbi-Lea Dionysius

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