A Clean Break
[For simplicity and convenience I've made the performer in this piece male, but with the same text and slightly different costume and primping dynamics, this could as easily be acted (in which case Andrea) by a woman]
(Speaking to his image in a full length miror As he speaks he might adjust tie, suit lapels, handkerchief in pocket etc. at various
I can't be the only one of us who senses this isn't working out--don't you think it's best we end it clean? (Pause, looks down) This is going to be hard well! (looks up) who ever said ending a relationship is easy and this, let's face it! is the longest sustained one I've ever had. (Addressing image again) It was good between us once upon a time, in the long ago beginning (Rolls eyes, starts again) It was so good in the beginning, but that was long ago. The tension between us is worse every day and let's face it! that intial spark, whatever you want to call it, has been conspicuous by its absence for quite some time. And the fights! it isn't so much the ugly side of you they bring out, but the uncanny way you seem to have discovered of bringing out the worst in me. What's best in me you regard as weakness because what you value as strength is weakness disguised as rage and bravado. If you were different or I were different, who knows? but I'm not.
(Presses revolver to temple. Gunshot over BLACKOUT. Thud of body.)
Last edited on Wed Mar 12th, 2008 12:29 am by Martin H
From the first line of speech or of stage direction? I could use a more ambiguous word such as 'practices' or 'rehearses' before his image. Do you think seeing this onstage you would have known where it was going from the beginning?
You might easily be right on the second point. One reason I haven't tackled one minute plays before is that it seems easier to do something well rounded and complete at that length in flash fiction or verse form. The whole apparatus of theatre seems to impose an obligation to go on at least a little longer (outside the world of skits and sketches, which I love as well.) I posted a second attempt above this one, but the third attempt was a complete failure--I got so interested in the basic idea that I'm now developing it as a two act play.
The one-minute play is useful in that it forces the writer to compress his/her writing. This is an invaluable exercise, as most writers "over-write." I once wrote a 1500 word essay that I thought might work for a radio program that was asking for submissions of 500 words. I found out just how much filler I had when I began the pruning. I thought that the original intent would be ruined, and the lyricism that I thought I had striven for would be lost. It was quite the contrary. I ended up with a tight, short essay that had both lyricism and punch. The radio station asked me to do a rewrite, which I did, and was able to compress it even further in the process. Too bad they didn't use it. LOL
I don't think much character development is possible in a one-minute play, but that isn't really the point of them, I think.
Actually, I believe that's the challenge of a short play. Can you create a piece with a plot and an arc and care about the characters in one minute, sans the drum rift.
It can be done...it's just not as easy as it seems.
The difference between a skit is a skit ends. A good play, no matter the length makes you feel as if it was going on before it started, and conintues after the blackout. I always say, if you take the last line out of a play, it probably becomes more interesting...if you take the last line out of a skit, it becomes nothing. So....if you take off the end of this piece...you have something....but maybe the audience isn't sure what. So maybe he opens a drawer and that's the end.
Martin...perhaps if you wrote this to give us a bit more of the character, and stopped thinking about how the audience will believe it's one thing, when it's the other, you'll probably find what you are looking for. Someone about to commit suicide should arouse feelings in us, and that's far more important than a surprise ending.
Maybe that's the lesson for me in the 'one minute play' I started to write about a woman who works at a Psychic Hot Line which is now roughly half done in first draft at about 45-50 minutes. At one minute it was a one joke piece, but it had the germ of a much larger work, a tragic farce with horror comedy overtones and a whole lot more character mileage than I'd originally imagined.
Personally there's nothing I like better than an open-ended finish. It's long been my contention that stories never end, they begin in the middle and finish somewhere further along in the middle. It may be harder to meet that standard with a very short play-- ten minutes? sure, I've done that and been reasonably happy with the results, but if you finish a one minute play open endedly, people are much likelier to ask you what happens next than to try to imagine it for themselves.
I really liked it, and I think the character should definitely do everyday activites infront of the mirror since it makes him look confidince with his choise, like he is ready to move on and wants to get closer before the end.
I already suggested the performer could be either an actor or an actress. As for the other idea, it's a thought. I'd want to stretch the point dramatically in that case I think, maybe have the image emerge when the mirror is shattered and the two engage in some sort of dialogue/duel. Whether it would work with this particular character I don't know. I'll think about it, thanks for the feedback.
How about another character entering after the gunshot. Then the questions hangs as if it was about themselves or a dialogue they should have had, or never had with the other person. The reaction of the other character would and could determine that, surprise, shock, disgust.
just an idea.
Did you write this as an exercise?
I have been using the ten page/ten minute scale as a way to try and tell a story in as short a time as possible, but a one minute length seems very difficult.