Sunday, April 03, 2011

New Plays, Short Scenes

I've seen a fistful of new plays during the past year and one thing that most of them have in common:  their dramatic action accretes over the collected span of many short scenes rather than builds organically over few long scenes. This is because writing long scenes that build plots isn't easy to do.  But, I'm afraid it's necessary. Plays built of many short scenes just don't pack the same wallop.  All those short scenes read about as well as a blog post.  Good enough for communicating a few interesting thoughts but not as in depth as an essay of many thousands of words.  They're all short jabs rather than knock out punches with a sustained swing behind 'em.

These plays may be influenced by movie writing--which can tell a story in literally a hundred little scenes--but I don't think that's the main influence. Writing plays is just plain not easy.  Henry James couldn't do it.

I would like to see all these new plays restructured along the classic lines of five act, three act, or even one act plays.  As they are now, they're interesting starts.

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