Home > Playwright Posts > A Journey On the Head of a Pin.

A Journey On the Head of a Pin.

David Caudle (photo by LMD Photography)


A Journey On the Head of a Pin.


I had no idea what I was in for when Dominic D’Andrea invited me to write a one-minute play for The Fifth Annual New York One-Minute Play Festival at Primary Stages, or more briefly, OMPF. (Brevity is the soul of OMPF.) As a writer who is also a visual artist, my first thought was, “Full Play or even Ten-Minute Play is to Painting, as One-Minute Play is to Still Photography.”  A painting takes time to realize.  Layering creates depth, composition defines relationships, and color and shape form conflicts and resolutions.

A photograph can capture all these elements as they exist in a given moment.   But a moment has no beginning, middle and end.  It can impact a character’s thoughts or actions in moments to follow, but those would need to be captured in successive photographs. Dominic’s guidelines state that the one minute play is a Play, not a Sketch.  He’s not asking for a moment, but a movement. In a page.  Well.  That’s a challenge.   Somewhere in the process, though, the very limitation began to feel like freedom.  The single blank sheet lay open–but really open–and very far from warning me about clunky exposition, broad character development, or unsupported reversals.   Soon this welcoming, forgiving page was filled with words which Dominic will direct at 59 E 59 on the 16th.

I can feel that every new process will be informed by this one, regardless of its length.  And the analogy becomes clear:  Writing the one-minute play is like painting a diorama with a great big brush on the head of a pin, and trusting it will tell the story.


-David Caudle


The 5th Annual New York One-Minute Play Festival: 75 Play. 60+ Playwrights. 40+ Actors. 9 Directors. 1 Minute. With Primary Stages at 59e59 Theatres, in support and benefit of ESPA. Tickets are $20, and available here



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