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24 September 2014

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How to write your 60 Second Shakespeare script

Writing advice

So, you've decided to make a 60 Second Shakespeare, but what's it going to be about?

Will you do a modern updating, just use one of Shakespeare's themes, or perform a scene in the original language? Here's some advice to make sure you'll have a great script ready to film or record.

The basics
Structure
Make sure you've got a beginning, middle and end to your story. Even if they don't come in that order!
Keep it simple
Don't try to do too much! Sixty seconds really isn't very long, so keep your story simple. Think about what the point of the story is, and concentrate on that.
Character
Think about what the characters in your story are like. Why do they do what they do? What are their motivations and feelings? Think about how you'd feel and behave if you were in their position.
Keep it realistic
It's an old one, but write about what you know. If you're writing a scene where people are arguing, joking or whatever, try to think of times you've seen people arguing, joking or whatever and draw inspiration from that.
Enjoy yourself!
Most importantly - have fun! Your enjoyment of the story will come out in the finished product.

Using Shakespeare as inspiration
Decide which play you're going to look at, and what you're going to do with it. Your Sixty Second Shakespeare could be:
A performance of your favourite one-minute Shakespeare scene or conversation.
Beware! One minute isn't very long, so make sure the extract you pick really can be fitted into sixty seconds without gabbling it. Try timing how long it takes to read it out loud.
A shortened version of a scene or even whole play.
Remember, you haven't got much time, so you'll have to pick just a few of the most important moments from the play or scene.

That doesn't mean there's just one "right" story you can tell. There may be many different tales you could tell by picking various different moments from the same play.

A story inspired by a theme, idea, or character you've found in Shakespeare - such as a modern interpretation, or a story that just takes Shakespeare's themes as a starting point.
Themes: Think about what the big themes of the play you're interested in are. There may be several - Macbeth is about ambition, but it's also about guilt, for instance.

Ideas: Perhaps there's an idea in Shakespeare that you would like to look at in your film or audio? For instance, A Midsummer Night's Dream says that children must do what their parents say - a film about how people would react to that these days might be interesting.

Characters: If there's a character in Shakespeare's work you liked, and want to know more about, here's your chance. For example, you could write something about how Kate and Petruchio's marriage (Taming of the Shrew) works out, or what happens to Ariel and Caliban (The Tempest) after Prospero leaves their island.

Learn from the best
Remember, you've got the work of Britain's best playwright for inspiration - use it!

Plan it out!
Plan it out
Plan out your film or audio before starting to record - it'll hugely improve the results you get.
Storyboard
If you're making a film, try to think in pictures - it will make the filming much easier. Try drawing up a storyboard to show how the main moments should look. It'll be really helpful, even if you can't draw!
Where are you?
If you're making an audio, you'll still need to think about the "locations" of the story, and make sure listeners can imagine them. Don't rely too heavily on sound effects - they can only do so much.

Shakespeare's plays, themes and characters

Getting started

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