My 10-minute play, “One Less,” is one of six being produced in this weekend’s Long Story Shorts festival from the Writing for the Screen and Stage Program at UNC.
I was accepted into the program as a sophomore and wrote this short play last fall as a junior.
It is a study of character. Three friends gather in the wake of a fourth’s death to try and keep up their monthly dinner party tradition.
The characters are interpretations of myself in three states of mind after the death of my close friend in 2010.
The first draft was a completely different story, centered on the same emotions. After a year of edits, it has finally become exactly what I wanted — cathartic and universal and joyful and devastating.
But it was a long time coming.
As part of the program, I wrote three drafts of the play junior year. A handful of all students’ plays were chosen by program director Dana Coen and workshopped again during the spring semester. Eight of those were selected to be worked on over the summer and, come September, the final six were chosen.
By the time “One Less” got to that point, I was too wrapped up in the mechanics of it to feel any of the emotions I was putting on the page. I thought the key to the subtext had gotten lost in a draft shed along the way; I worried as rehearsal times grew closer that it would fall flat and emotionless.
And then came rehearsals. Spending time with actors playing different versions of you that you created is a twisted psychological exercise, if you’re looking for one. But it was incredible.
Finally, seeing the play come to life, I found the emotion was there all along. Like with Marilyn Frye’s feminist birdcage (but without the feminism) I had been too close to the project; the emotions shot past me as I robotically spun out drafts. Seeing it performed, I got chills. I got teary. I got excited.
That’s the beauty of the unique minor program that UNC offers — it’s a nitty-gritty class load that requires tough skin and endless reimaginings of the same plot (so find one you like, or else life will be misery). But through festivals like Long Story Shorts, everything pays off.
Tonight, my play, along with five of my classmates’, will open for a one-weekend-only run.
I can’t wait to share it.
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