Home > Playwright Posts > After all, what are one-minute plays if not haiku for adults.

After all, what are one-minute plays if not haiku for adults.

Jen Silverman

As somebody addicted to the mile-a-minute view from planes, trains, and automobiles, it strikes me as odd that this was the first time I’d ever sat down to write a one-minute play. I’ve written one other one-minute play in my life, more by happy accident than anything else (“Oh hey look, I have nothing else to say and it all fits on one page!”), but in general I’m in love with full-length plays. Long novels. Greek trilogies. Indian epics. I want to watch entire civilizations—or at the very least, relationships—rise and fall over time. So upon taking up the one-minute challenge offered by our friendly local gentleman & scholar Dominic D’Andrea, I sat down to think about the world in terms of a single minute. What happens in a minute? I asked.

Not very much, I replied. What does human progress look like? Well, people stand in lines. Lines take time. Then civilization decays. Decay takes time. People grow old. Growing old takes time. Coups d’état, cultural revolutions, mass genocide, and the gradual virus-like spread of increasingly alienating technologies also require generous amounts of time to unfold.

Then I thought: Now Jen Silverman, just because it’s after midnight and you haven’t slept in three days and you’re jetlagged by about fourteen hours and you’re living out of the boxes you haven’t yet unpacked and you’re not sure whether the airlines lost the bag with your chucks or whether you just misplaced them and the quality of your life depends on this answer DOES NOT MEAN that you need to be so damn PESSIMISTIC about THE VALUE OF TIME.

So then I thought: OK. So. What one-minute events have recently rocked my world?

Exhibit A: 2 am, Kobe City, I round the corner of Kobe Station and a man is taking a piss against the wall. He turns around, sees me, his face radiates shock, then he gives me a hopeful smile and a thumbs-up. He swivels his hips repeatedly, pants pooled at his ankles, and starts to hum. As I walk past, he dances. Thirty-five seconds tops.

Exhibit B: 10 pm, NYC subway platform. Two older women stand waiting for the uptown A. “But you know,” says one, “carpooling is like sex. When you’re younger, you’ll do it with anybody. When you’re older, you’re much more selective.” Ten seconds, changed my life.

Exhibit C: San Francisco, 4 am, I’m walking down a dark street and three beefy guys step out of an alley in front of me. One of them says, “Hey girl, do these shoes go with these pants?” I blink at him. Black shoes. Black pants. “Yeah,” I say dumbly, “they’re great.” “Thank the fuckin lord,” the guy says, and all three melt back into the alley. Only sixty seconds and I’m ready to move to this city.

None of these ended up being the one-minute plays I wrote (Thank the fuckin lord, perhaps you say), but upon reminding myself of the sheer potential of the sudden and beautifully truncated one-minute play form, I fell into a reverie from which emerged short tales of German expressionism and cannibalism.

-Jen Silverman

80+ plays. 30+ actors. 7 directors. 1-minute.

The 4th Annual NY One Minute Play Festival

Saturday, Sept. 25th & Sunday, Sept. 26th at 8pm

At Astoria Performing Arts Center

Buy your tickets here: http://bit.ly/1-minute-tix

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