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plays where the story isn't told in chronological order  Rating:  Rating
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 Posted: Tue Dec 27th, 2011 05:16 pm
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Louisep at Playwrights Muse
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I'm experimenting with my current play, seeing if I can tell the story I want if I the scenes aren't in chronological order.

Has anyone ever tried this? Any tips?

Also, does anyone have any examples I could look at? A few that I know of:

Stop Kiss
Sight Unseen
Gruesome Playground Injuries
Top Girls (IIRC, only the last scene is not in chronological order)

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 Posted: Tue Dec 27th, 2011 06:32 pm
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voxel
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Memory plays tend to be told slightly out of order:

The Glass Menagerie
Equus
Amadeus
Yellow Face

... and I'd say Stop Kiss is one of those too.

I vaguely recall these being slightly odd time-wise

Proof
M. Butterfly
Betrayal
Dying City

The Last Five Years (a musical) tells two stories in parallel, but each reserved.

You also have Rashomon style plays where each character tells a story of the past, so time shifts around.

A weird one I saw was Peggy Pickit Sees the Face of God where characters break out of themselves to tell you the future which will happen on stage. Probably one of the best one act plays I've seen.


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 Posted: Wed Dec 28th, 2011 11:28 am
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Doug B
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Maybe someone can help me - my mind can't come up with the name of the play but it is about a couple and runs in reverse - the first scene has the couple breaking up and the closing scene has them meeting.

Doug

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 Posted: Wed Dec 28th, 2011 12:20 pm
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Louisep at Playwrights Muse
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Doug, is that a play with a stained glass light fixture over a table? At one point, the woman is marveling at it rather than paying attention to the man.

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 Posted: Wed Dec 28th, 2011 08:03 pm
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DWolfman
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EARTH AND SKY by Douglas Post has Sarah finding out her lover David has been murdered. Her involvement in tracking down the killer goes forward through the play while scenes of their love affair wind back to end the play with how they first met.

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 Posted: Thu Dec 29th, 2011 09:33 pm
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RTurco
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One play that has an interesting time structure is "A Soldier's Play". It tells the story of a murder mystery and has three different levels of time. I'd recommend that.

RTurco

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 Posted: Thu Dec 29th, 2011 11:43 pm
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Louisep at Playwrights Muse
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DWolfman and RTurco, thank you. I will look for those.

There's another David Margulies play, "DInner with Friends." Act II takes place some years before Act I.

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 Posted: Fri Dec 30th, 2011 09:55 pm
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in media res
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Doug,

That play is Harold Pinter's "Betrayal."

Made a great movie as well.

Saw a production of "Woyzeck" at The Public Theatre where they shuffled the scenes before every night's performance!

IMR

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 Posted: Mon Jan 2nd, 2012 05:48 pm
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Louisep at Playwrights Muse
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IMR, what did you think of the shuffle you saw?

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 Posted: Mon Jan 2nd, 2012 09:38 pm
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in media res
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Well, for 30 years ago, and being a young actor about two weeks in NYC and growing up with the wonderful history, aura, mythology and excitement of Joseph Papp and the Public Theatre, I thought it was really neat...though I was not overwhelmed by it. Actors were very good, which is what Papp was all about.

Less than 2 months later, I was hired for my first professional job by Papp.

So there is a sweet spot in my heart for that time.

To tell you the truth, I would have hated to have been an actor operating under those conditions. I like things "set" as a performer. I am not a fan of improvisation as a performer. But, I especially have always admired talented people who are very good at what I am not good at. I am in awe of good singers. In rehearsal it is fun to improvise while trying to discover things, but once we have a show...just go out and do it and go home. But, the actors all did a wonderful job in that show.


best,

IMR

Last edited on Tue Jan 3rd, 2012 08:59 am by in media res

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 Posted: Tue Jan 3rd, 2012 10:02 pm
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Louisep at Playwrights Muse
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Thank you, everyone, for your suggestions of plays to read.

I am narrowing my focus to plays without flashbacks, that aren't memory. So, plays like "Stop Kiss," "Sight Unseen," "Earth and Sky," and "Gruesome Playground Injuries."

Does anyone have any more suggestions?

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 Posted: Tue Jan 3rd, 2012 10:02 pm
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Louisep at Playwrights Muse
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Oh, and "Betrayal."

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 Posted: Fri Jan 13th, 2012 04:11 pm
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Awfly Wee Eli
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Hey! I'm currently writing a play that works that way, too. It's set two years ago, two months ago, and now. I have a scene-by-scene outline, in "real" chronological order. When I started, I wrote scenes in the order I thought I wanted them to go in the play, but now I'm writing them in whatever order they come to me. As I write each scene, I make an index card with a short synopsis phrase ("M & T fight" or "J sells car"). When I've written all the scenes, I can spread out the cards and move them around until I find the right order. It's fun!

For an example, I highly recommend The Transdimensional Courier's Union by John Heimbuch.

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 Posted: Fri Jan 13th, 2012 04:14 pm
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Paddy
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I've known playwrights, that will, when frustrated, throw all the cards into the air and sort them blindly, just to see.

Paddy

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 Posted: Fri Jan 13th, 2012 04:20 pm
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Louisep at Playwrights Muse
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In a class a friend of mine took, everyone shuffled their cards and handed them to another person. That other person then put them in the order they thought made sense.

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 Posted: Mon Apr 9th, 2012 11:13 pm
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carlblong
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Arcadia, as an extreme example.
Waiting for Godot, maybe?
Copenhagen

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 Posted: Tue Apr 10th, 2012 10:57 am
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Doug B
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Louise:

Did you see TORSO at the Theatre Off Jackson? Very strange (but well told) story that did not seem to be in chronological order.

Doug

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 Posted: Tue Apr 10th, 2012 08:11 pm
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Louisep at Playwrights Muse
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I did see it! I loved it. Thank you for mentioning it.

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