Speed Thru

Quick Sketch

Use the acting/directing concept of the Speed Thru to quickly rewrite your scene and discover new things about your play.

When to Use

Anytime. Combat writer's block, fight dullness, or just discover the unexpected.

Trimming the Fat

The Speed Thru is an exercise used, primarily, for rehearsing lines for performance. The idea is for the actors to very quickly go through a small segment (or even the entirety) of the play prior to a run-through or perhaps even an entire performance. Think of it as a speedy way to remember what you need to say by saying it quickly. There are variations of course. Sometimes this is also done with blocking, gestures, and "acting" in an effort to truly engage and examine all parts of the performance.

Something happens during a Speed Thru. The actors suddenly have to cast off any preconceived notions about their characters. All of the pausing and thinking and personal ticks and unnecessary flab get trimmed off in this exercise as there is, quite simply, no time for it. This lack of excess tends to spur revelations, new line readings, and a heightened sense of a primary purpose at any given moment.

Transferring the Speed Thru to a playwriting exercise is actually quite simple: rewrite a section of your script as fast as you can. In the process, you can trim the fat and tighten the flow.

The Exercise

  1. Re-read your play (or scene, or sequence, etc.)
  2. Pick a dedicated time period to rewrite a section of your play.
  3. While writing -- DO NOT STOP. Forward progress is key.
  4. If possible use a program (if writing digitally) that disallows deleting characters (more akin to a typewriter).
  5. Write as much as you can in the allotted time, but try to write everything you planned to write.


With any luck you've finished a 20 minute writing spurt and discovered something about your play. Perhaps you found a more efficient way to write a scene. Perhaps you realized that your scene was full of fluff (but you added hefty content during your Speed Thru . Perhaps you clarified character motivations, individual character voices, or some other area of your script.