Playwriting Exercise: Be Number One!
In a previous Theatrefolk podcast I talked about celebrating the competition and got off on a little side tangent about what it must be like for athletes who not only must compete to excel in their sport but also must win. Their worth as an athlete is dependent on winning, on beating the competition. And how some human beings go to extreme lengths to make this happen, be it hurting themselves, hurting others, doing whatever it takes.
This circled around nicely to the theatrical definition of conflict which is: conflict is the thing in the way of a character getting what they want. If a character wants to win and there is something or someone in their way – what do they do? How far will they go? They may want to win so bad they do something illegal. Or immoral. Or they may go in the complete opposite direction and sabotage themselves so they don’t win.
That is some wonderful character work right there, so let’s turn it into some theatre!
- Write a dialogue between a coach and an athlete where the coach tries to convince the athlete it’s not bad to take steroids if it guarantees winning.
- Write a monologue where a teenager is trying to explain to a parent (who’s silence is very stoney) why they don’t want to compete in their sport any longer.
- Write a monologue from a parent’s perspective trying to keep a teen in a sport, with the “we’re number one” mentality. What will happen to the parent if the teen stops their sport?
- Write a monologue in which an athlete, the best in his country, realizes he’s not good enough to medal at the Olympics. How does this make him feel?
- Write a dialogue between an older athlete and a younger athlete where the younger athlete is very green and naive about succeeding in a sport.
- Write a monologue in which an athlete is deciding whether to take a drug, knowing she’ll get caught, because she doesn’t want to compete any longer.