Playing with Time

 As playwrights, we (I’m assuming a collective we because playwrights are probably the only readers of a blog about women’s playwriting) are shapers of time.

By time, I’m not talking about THE TIMES. Instead, I’m talking about the time that an audience is sitting on their backsides and watching a play. It’s the magic hour between dinner and late night cocktails or perhaps between cocktails and late night dinner.

Like sculptors, we have different knives to cut through time. We could show some nifty characters, maybe put them in conflict with each other. We could show flash and sparkle. Or we could show nothing at all but turn it into something magical. We could have dancing and singing. We could have kissing—people seem to like the kissing parts.

Whatever we decide to do, the audience is sitting there. Sometimes they’re eating snacks. Sometimes they’re drinking water out of plastic bottles. Sometimes they’re sleeping. Maybe they had some wine in the lobby before a performance. 

Maybe some are secretly texting their lovers. Maybe some are getting live updates of a championship game they are missing in order to see the play they were dragged to. Maybe some are making a mental to-do list for the next day.

Maybe, just maybe, some get sucked into the play in spite of their best intentions to remain aloof and cynical about the proceedings. After all, it’s just actors pretending on a stage. Or is it?

What is the play’s relationship to the audience? How can the playwright slow down time? Speed up time?

 Why do people spend their time watching plays? It’s something to do, I suppose.

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