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ONE GOOD MINUTE

David Lee White

 

I’ve learned something very important while working on the one-minute play festival, and it is this: no play should last longer than a minute. Stay with me. This is because art is a reflection of life and the most important moments of your life were/are less than one minute long. “No way!” I hear you cry. Trust me. I’m forty-two years old and I’m right about everything.

Consider your favorite play, which is either “The Glass Menagerie” or “Spider-man.” The best production of “The Glass Menagerie” I’ve ever seen had an outstanding actress playing Amanda. She was only seventeen but she got an Irene Ryan nomination out of the gig. Anyway, there’s really only one solid minute in the whole play and it’s the only minute you need. It’s when Tom realizes his mom is crazy and his sister is always going to be crippled and he decides to leave home. He says “You’re crazy, mom! I realize that now! I’m leaving you and my crippled sister and moving away!” or something like that. I can’t remember. And in “Spider-man” it’s the moment in Act II when Spider-man decides to go with the fairy spider goddess back to fairy spiderland. I assume. I haven’t actually seen “Spider-man.” I’m too afraid something will happen to me. Plus, I don’t get out much now that I have a baby. But you see my point. One good minute. The rest is just build up, context, padding and maybe a little information about pleurosis.

Same with movies. There’s usually one good minute, surrounded by lots of explosions and fucking.

So every play should be no more than a minute long because every important moment in your life lasted less than a minute. And don’t try to tell me “Oh, I was in labor with my first baby for thirty-six hours and it was the most beautiful moment of my life.” No it wasn’t. It was a lot of pain and a lot of anticipation and sweating and grunting and screaming – then that wonderful moment when you finally saw the baby – then you got tired and collapsed in exhaustion. But what you really remember is that *one moment*.
Or take the first time you had sex. If you’re really being honest, you only remember about a minute’s worth of the whole thing. Your orgasm (if you had one) was only 8-10 seconds (if you’re a man – longer for some of you ladies)

Does anyone reading this actually have more than one good minute a day? I don’t. Even if I have sex, that still leaves about fifty seconds a day for a tall glass of filtered water and a brief floss. Don’t feel bad for me. It’s all I need. If my good moments lasted longer – say a minute forty seconds – I’d think there was something wrong.

We’re all adult professionals. Let’s embrace this reality and stop wasting paper by writing plays longer than they need to be. Enough plural-pagers. One page, one minute. And I know you’re thinking “Why should I pay $100 ($50 at TKTS) for a play that only lasts one minute? It isn’t reasonable!” You’re right. But theatre itself is not reasonable. How else do you explain the popularity of “Oklahoma,” a play about a cowboy that stabs a retarded man to death with a sex toy from Kansas City? Trust me. This is what audiences want. One minute.

Okay… one minute and ten seconds if there’s an intermission.

 

-David Lee White

 

David’s plays are part of the New Jersey One-Minute Play Festivalin partnership with the New Brunswick Theater Festival, January 22nd and 23rd at Rutgers University. For Details visit here.

 



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