Only One Page?!?

In the world of theatre we have ‘plays’, ‘one acts’, ‘sketches’, ‘scenes’, amongst other categories of performance types. One of the questions brought up during last weekend’s Suzan-Lori Parks post show discussion was: “How are these plays?” This brings up a very interesting question in the world of theatre, especially in dealing with a group of ‘plays’ that are only a page long. One of the actors answered quite simply: “It is a play because it has a beginning, middle and an end”. This is an excellent point, however, does that make it a play? One-acts and sketches generally have beginnings, middles and ends. Thus we are left with the same question. Is there something that makes a play different from a sketch or a one-act? What is a “play”? Random House lists 62 different definitions for the word most of which I could easily call theatre. The first definition is “a dramatic composition or piece, drama”. This says to me that a one-act and a sketch can both still be plays in the true definition as these are both dramatic compositions. Thus qualifying SLP’s 365 plays as actual plays because they are dramatic compositions. However, Parks herself questions them as plays in her own words while writing the 365 “plays”.

If the playwright (who is brilliant, no criticism of her writing here) is questioning her work doesn’t that leave us with the same question: “What makes these one page pieces plays?”


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