Pint-sized Plays – yes you can write one!

Fancy yourself as a playwright? If so, your chance to realise your ambition may be just around the corner thanks to Pint-sized Plays, a genre of theatre that is fast gaining momentum in New Zealand.

What are Pint-sized Plays?

The concept of Pint-sized Plays originated in Wales when a group of theatre enthusiasts decided there was no reason in the world why the general public shouldn’t enjoy plays performed in an everyday environment with minimum props and a very simple set. In essence, the group was advocating the return to a version of theatre which went as far back as the travelling players of Shakespearian England, when troupes of performers arrived in town and delivered their plays on the back of a cart.

This time, however, no one would be expected to watch or perform in the open-air. Instead, the Pint-sized Plays would be performed in a pub setting, by a maximum of 3 actors, and last no more that 10 minutes. What’s more, winners received – you guessed it – a pint! (Runners-up received a half-pint!)

Pint-sized Plays take off!

Pint-sized plays, now in their 11th year in the UK, became an immediate hit, and not just with the general public. They were a platform for launching aspiring playwrights into the world of script writing. Suddenly, writers who had never before seen their work performed were receiving national attention, and using the experience to spring-board their writing careers. Winner of Pint-sized Play-writing competitions went on to write full-length plays, and to have scripts for television and film taken seriously.

The word spreads

Never ones to miss out on an opportunity, it wasn’t long before Kiwis were embracing Pint-sized Plays with a vengeance. The genre became popular with amateur theatrical groups which often showcased the little plays in alternate years when they were taking a break from their major biennial productions. Schools and community groups reached for them, too, as a chance to give would-be players a taste of undemanding theatre.

Added to the genre’s popularity was the very reasonable cost of obtaining scripts. For the majority of plays, simply purchasing a volume of them entitled a group to perform without paying royalties (providing they weren’t charging an entrance fee). But even if they did wish to make money from their performance, it was a matter of few (not hundreds) of dollars.

You be the playwright!

Writing a Pint-sized Play is achievable – for anyone. And the incentive to put pen to paper has never been stronger thanks to New Zealand’s very own Pint-sized Play writing competitions (although you’re also free to enter the international Pint-sized Play writing competition. To find out more about the Kiwi opportunity for 2020, contact the Remarkable Theatre Company in Queenstown. In the meantime, here are some tips to get you started on your own creation.

Top Tips for writing a Pint-sized Play

  • Think of your mini-play as a skit
  • Don’t limit yourself to comedy
  • Get some practice by scripting a favourite joke
  • Think of your punchline first, and write back from it
  • Take a lead from every day life by scripting something hilarious (or poignant) that’s actually happened to you
  • Test the storyline on friends before putting pen to paper
  • Read as many Pint-sized plays as you can get your hands on (and see them performed if they come your way)
  • Tell yourself ‘Yes I can!’