Playwright Bradley Hayward knows the formula for superb youth theater, the kind admired by students, enjoyed by both parents and peers, and (perhaps most importantly) embraced by drama teachers. His one-act play "Epic Fail" is an excellent example of how to create a play that schools and theater groups will use. Here's what we can learn from "Epic Fail":
A) Come up with a catchy title and a cool premise. In the case of Hayward's comedy, five vignettes detail the lives of teens facing the big F -- Failure, in its many forms.
B) Create a flexible cast. "Epic Fail" can be performed with as little as 5 or as many as 30 actors. This means that a small-sized drama club could produce "Epic Fail," but it could also meet the needs of a large high school. The characters are also gender-flexible. He makes sure the names of the characters (Chris, Parker, Logan) are gender neutral.
C) Keep the setting and props simple. Again, "Epic Fail" is a terrific example. Only a bare stage is required, and if there's no prop-master involved, all of the items mentioned in the stage directions can be pantomimed.
D) Create awesome, fun dialogue. Sure, this is the tricky part. But what I've always admired about Hayward's work is that he never talks down to his readers, whether it be the audiences or the actors playing his characters. When there are lessons in his scripts, they are character driven rather than heavy-handed.
You can get more information about this festival favorite by visiting Eldridge Plays. (You can also read the first seven pages of the script, and see a list of productions from all over the U.S. and Canada.)