From the page to the stage in 8 hours. Shut. Up. | Live Wire Radio
Lizz Winstead leads the workshop.If you were one of the people at the workshop, you know that we couldn't shut up. At least our fingers couldn't shut up...writing, writing, writing, editing and writing like crazy people right up until the doors opened at...well, at 8:30. So 8 1/2 hours. So sue us.

An experiment in speed writing.
This was a new experience for Lizz, and for the 20 writers who attended. Start brainstorming at 12:30, have a show structure by 1, then first drafts of sketches by 3, and final drafts at 5:30. Oh. That'll be easy. No problem.

Weeeeelll. Okay, first draft by 3:30, final versions. By 6. No, wait...7. 7:30. Final drafts by 7:30!!!  We mean it!

Lizz was taking no prisoners. If she asked for suggestions once we had a show structure and you raised your hand and suggested a new show structure? Shut down. First rule of writing under the gun: Make a decision and STICK WITH IT. Be decisive.

Unless a better idea comes along. We'd decided the show structure would be Sarah Palin's bus tour traveling the country...and we'd meet all the people around it in various places. Then Live Wire writer Tyler Hughs suggested that when we got to Wasilla, we should see a historical play by the Wasilla Community Players, wherein they covered various historical events from Palin's perspective.

"Brilliant. That's the new structure of the show," said Lizz.

So, lesson 2: Be willing to change your mind when lightning strikes. Got it.

The deepest cut.
If your sketch wasn't in first-draft mode by 2:30, it was cut and you were absorbed into another group. If your sketch wasn't in good enough shape by 4:30 or 5, it was cut. Ouch. Seriously, ouch. Lesson 3: sometimes your sketch doesn't make the cut. In that case, jump in and help others edit their pieces. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

The show.
After the audience had waited for an extra half hour, "Sarah Palin's People's History of the United States" went up. Donald Trump's ancestor in a "Coonskin Combover" (TM Tyler Hughs)? Check. Ronald Reagan curing AIDS? Check. Paul Revere delivering a Dirty-Harry-esque monologue, wondering if he'd reloaded his musket? Check.

All in all, a great day and a discovery that even someone who's never written a sketch, given the right leadership and a terrifying ticking clock, can churn out some great material in no time at all.