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One page of a script equals one minute of stage time? It depends on your script.

by Feb 11, 2014On Writing: Craft and Commiseration, Playwriting, The Love of Three Oranges0 comments

There’s a rule you’ll see over and over again in script writing that states that one page of script is about 1 minute of stage or screen time. You’re told that a 30 minute play should be 30 pages or a 90 minute movie would be a 90 page script. But while it’s better than nothing at giving you an idea of how long your script will be performed, it’s not the ironclad rule you’ll see it presented as.

For example: I have never seen a production of The Love of Three Oranges that ran under an hour and a half (heck, in some productions that’s the length of Act One alone) and the Playscripts version of that script is 47 pages total (that’s just the actual script part minus all the front and back matter). When you move that same content into 8.5 by 11 standard letter size (which is how most of us write), it’s only 30 pages long. That means each page translates to an average 4 minutes of stage time because of all the improvisation, fight scenes, comedy bits, etc.

The lesson here is that the final run time is going to really depend on your script. A 30 page script could be a quick one act or, like Oranges, it could be a full length play depending on how much of the script  is dialog and how much is action without anyone speaking. Saying “they fight” is only a single line in a script but it could be several minutes of screen or stage time. Leaving room for improvisation in your script is also going to lengthen the time it takes to perform.

Well then how do you know how long your script really is? Get some actors together and do a reading of it. Or, better yet, stage an actual production of it. Taking it off the page and onto the stage or screen is really the best way to know how each individual show translates into pages per minute.



  1. New customizations make Camp NaNoWriMo the most flexible month long writing challenge ever! - Hillary DePiano - […] instead of having to count words), write a script (which are almost always written in terms of page count rather…

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About the Author

Hillary DePiano is a playwright, fiction and non-fiction writer who loves writing of all kinds except for writing bios like this.

The original “fairy tale on crack”!

Forget all your dusty misconceptions about the traditions of commedia dell’arte as Hillary DePiano's The Love of Three Oranges, based on a scenario by Carlo Gozzi, provides a wild, raucous slapstick comedy that is completely retooled and revised for today’s audiences.

Now available as both a full length and one act play.

Books and Plays by Hillary DePiano


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