What are Twitterplays?
Every Tuesday morning, we post an assignment on Twitter (@nyneofuturists) for our followers to write a 1-tweet play that…. Sometimes the prompt includes a prop or character to feature, sometimes a sound effect or stage direction, sometimes a setting.
Can we read these plays?
Yes! On Wednesday, we post the previous day’s Twitterplays on this blog. Search for “twitter” on our Tumblr, and you should find them.
Can we write these plays?
Absolutely! Check our Twitter account each Tuesday for the Assignment. With that is a hashtag (e.g. #tp178). The number in the hashtag changes each week, btw, to reflect what week we’re in. Thus, #tp178 represents the 178th week of Twitterplays. Include that hashtag in your 1-tweet play and pow, you’ve made a Twitterplay!
Why did you start doing this?
We didn’t mean to. One day in March 2009, as we (and most of the world) were just trying to figure out Twitter, we posted a simple playwriting prompt: Write a short play that uses at least 2 roles and a significant prop. We didn’t really mean for anyone to write it in one tweet, nor even share it with us. In truth, it was mostly a self-reflexive assignment, trying to motivate ourselves to write something.
But about 15 people responded that day to that one tweet with 140-character-or-less plays. Here are a few of those we received on March 10, 2009:
@sarahmclellan - Me: Send this email. My computer: BOUNCEBACK. Me: Please send this email. My computer: BOUNCEBACK. Me: I’m going home early.
@calindrome - BANK: Drop the trailer! LADY: If’n I can’t have it, no one can. [throws trailer off cliff, then realizes cats still inside]
@krisjoseph - A: I think I’m stuck. B: You should have thought of that before you cheated. A: Wha? Is that you? Honey? B:.. (a door slams)
We were so thrilled by this, we kept doing it every week after that.
How many Twitterplays have been written?
As of today (August 29, 2012), there have been 4,676 1-tweet plays written (maybe a few more, as our weekly counting was not always perfect) by about 900 different Twitter users.
Do you have favorite Twitterplays?
Which ones are they?
The best ones.
Do you publish ALL of them to your blog?
Mostly, yes. The most we ever received in one week was about 55, so we’ve not really had to edit down the list.
Hey, why didn’t you publish the Twitterplay I wrote?
If we didn’t publish it, it’s only because we didn’t see it. Sometimes Twitter doesn’t show us every tweet in a certain hashtag. We don’t know why. Just email Jeffrey at email@example.com or tweet us.
Is there a certain order you place them in?
Not really. We try to hand-pick the first and last plays for each week’s blog posting. We will usually find one of the many plays we like each week to open the post and then pick what we think is the most shocking or abrupt or unexpected play to end it.
How long are you going to do this?
Don’t know. We have no plans to stop. It’s fun, and people participate every week, and we like those people.
Do you have plans to stage these plays? (or, Have you staged them before?)
It’s complicated. The short answer is No. (We did stage a few LGBTQ-themed twitterplays for Pride back in Summer 2009.)
Here’s the thing. These plays are written for consumption on Twitter. Many of them are brilliant and funny and clever. But they are written to be read and RT’ed on Twitter. Live theater requires pacing and a shapely dramatic arc that the printed/digital word does not (THEATER OF THE MIND!) Some of these short, short, über-short twitter plays could work as short, short, über-short stage plays, but once you start stringing a whole bunch of them together, it becomes more difficult.
Wait! But you guys are known for your weekly show that features a whole bunch of short plays!
True but most of those 2-minute plays are like epic, Homerian yarns compared to the 140 characters of Twitter. Also the Twitterplays are A) Not our plays to edit/rewrite for our directorial needs; B) Not all in our very specific Neo aesthetic. So it’s just not a project we are planning to take on.
Bottom line is these plays are a unique, fun part of social media, and we feel that staging them actually undercuts their real value. We want the writers of these plays to take their shorties and build on them. Make them bigger, better. Even read others’ shorties and get inspired and/or develop relationships with the other amazing writers from Portland or Melbourne or NY or Chicago or Indiana or Texas or UK or Boston. We’re just hoping to catalyze creativity; give it some urging.
Well, I still think they could be staged.
Isn’t this supposed to be Frequently Asked Questions?
Well, you’re writing the whole thing, so…
Why are you so cool?