This weekend I wrote a play! Short and swift, just like the title character!
It’s a 20-minute comedy called The Gingerbread Man Gets Schooled. The dashing Gingerbread Man finds his way into the Baker Street School cafeteria, and it’s up to the Mad Science Club and the cheerleading squad to run him down.
20-minute plays are growing in popularity. They usually have single sets, a dozen or so characters, and can be staged with a minimum of technical and financial support. Ideally, no one character carries the show and the parts are fairly evenly matched in terms of stage time and lines of dialogue. These plays seem to be most attractive to elementary and middle schools where mounting a full scale play or musical is out of the question, and they want to do age-appropriate material.
The Gingerbread Man Gets Schooled takes place entirely in the school cafeteria, where, in actuality, this play is most likely to be performed. Or on an empty stage. No furniture. Simple. Inexpensive.
I had a lot of fun with character names on this one. Everyone is named after a combination of baked goods and pastry items: Crusty Croquembouche, Newton Figg, Lorna Doone, Toffee Snickerdoodle, etc. My favorite is Berner Haselnusslebkuchen!
Also, over the years I have learned not to write “down” to young actors or audiences. This script has some challenging vocabulary, including the terms Fahrenheit, protocol, and even dodecagon! I’ve included some basic vocabulary related to chemistry, physics and geometry, in addition to all those pastry names, so the students will have fun looking them up. Adult audiences love it when children spout out brilliant things.
Writing even a short, simple, playful show like The Gingerbread Man Gets Schooled is quite satisfying. It will be even better when I get to see a live production, where the kids have made it their own!