September 2, 2019 1

How to Write & Develop Dialogue for Plays : What is Dialogue in Plays?

How to Write & Develop Dialogue for Plays : What is Dialogue in Plays?

STEVE CAVERNO: Steve Caverno on behalf of
Expert Village, here to talk to you today about dialogue. Now, we’re going to talk about
dialogue. This is the primary method of conveying the plot of the play to the audience. In plays,
people talk and they talk a lot. And what we’re going to talk about today is how they
talk. Dialogue can have many different–there are many different ways it is delivered. Dialogue
in plays is typically written as
Amy: Hi, Joe! And then, Joe: What’s up Amy? So–then we just have the person’s name on
the line and then the line, aim line, aim line. We’re going through this more on formatting
as well of how you want a lot of space on your script. But, for the moment, we’ll look
at dialogue. So, one person says something and then another person replies and this continues.
And in between the dialogue, you might have some action that happens, you might have a
pause that happens perhaps, but the dialogue occurs and then the dialogue continues. This
is how the actors know which line they’re going to say. So, in a script, you’ll have
these lines and the actors will learn the lines, memorize them, and repeat them in front
of the audience without the script. First, you’ll probably have a reading and then you’ll
go into the rehearsal process, telling the actors where to go and the lines will indicate
where to go, the director will say, “Alright, at this point, on ‘Hi, Joe!’ you’ll approach
Joe, and then Joe, you’ll approach Amy on, ‘What’s up, Amy?'” So, at this point, these
two actors will have a movement. The dialogue is a way for the director to chart the course
of the play. They’ll decide which line will add a certain movement. Also, it’s a way for
the lighting designer to come in and say, “Oh, this is a point in the play where I want
the lights to brighten up when someone says, ‘And then now, I’m going to fight you!’ then
maybe the lights will brighten and then we see–reveal the whole scene and maybe someone
reveals the time machine on the stage. And at one moment, it’s in darkness and then the
next moment, it lights up.” These are ways in dialogue can cue action. A lot of times
we talk about cue lines, the actress will talk about “Well, that’s my cue line. When
Amy says, ‘Hi Joe!’ that’s my cue to say, ‘What’s up, Amy?'” And so, at that point,
we get to see how dialogue interplays and how this is laid out in a play.

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