One task I give my amateur Playwriting students is to have them write a 60-second play in Two Acts using the Three Act structure.  That means you have around 30 seconds to set up the plot conflict points, 20 seconds to explode the conflict and 10 seconds to bring around a catharsis and denouement. 

A Playwright is a “Play Builder” — and that means you are a craftsman and not an artist.  Your job is to create structure and a frame first as you plot your drama.

Students always balk at the time limit.  They want the freedom to explore and write as they wish without any conditions or boundaries.

I teach them that the discipline of writing a 60-second play — and then performing it! — will make them better writers because they will have to be economical, smart, and to trust their gut.

It can be just as hard to write a 60-second play as a 90-minute play because the terms and conditions are absolutely the same:  Drama is Conflict.

Learning how to sustain the conflict over arcs of crisscrossing time is what measures the mature playwright’s rite against the amateur wrong.

Posted by David Boles

David Boles was born in Nebraska and his MFA is from Columbia University in the City of New York. He is an Author, Lyricist, Playwright, Publisher, Editor, Actor, Designer, Director, Poet, Producer, and Boodle Boy for print, radio, television, film, the web and the live stage. With more than 50 books in print, David continues to write 2MM words a year. He has authored over 25K articles and published more. Read the Prairie Voice Archive at | Buy his books at David Boles Books Writing & Publishing | Earn the world with David Boles University | Get a script doctored at Script Professor | Touch American Sign Language mastery at Hardcore ASL.


  1. kathakali.chatterjee January 20, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Ok, I surrender.
    I think this would be the most challenging task I have ever faced. I was trying to come up with a 60-second play for last one hour…without success.
    Though I don’t know much about playwriting technique but I just trusted my sense…..the outcome was either “one act”, or the plot got longer or the dialogues were so short that it sounded like a rapid-fire–rat-tat-tat-tat!
    Congratulations to your students who could come up with it!



  2. Gordon Davidescu January 20, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    You’d think this would be somewhere on Youtube but I can’t find any sixty second plays on there.:/ I like the idea of it.



  3. It takes a semester of training to be able to write an effective 60-second play. It is not an easy thing to do right, but when it works, it’s a wowee.



  4. I’m glad there are no 60-second plays on YouTube because they would not be the sort of project I teach. The parameters are very specific.



  5. […] a husband, or a child — all in an attempt at some sort of strange, and ill-conceived public, catharsis that only sheds blood and never stanches their evil […]



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