I like writing under time pressure. I’ve written for Boston’s May Day Play Day, where the writers write a play in one night and it’s staged the next day. I’ve made plays for Mill 6’s T Plays, where I had to write a play in one afternoon, while riding the subway, about riding the subway. Something about the constraints of having to write a script in just a short time, within a stated set of parameters, gets my blood pumping. There’s that instant sense of panic–what if I can’t come up with something? How do I even write a one-minute play? How can I tell a story, introduce characters, situation, emotion, in one page?
In his initial message to us, Dominic talked about one-minute plays being “impulses of storytelling.” Little blips, almost freeze frame insights into something bigger. For me, I think of them as glowing sparks of a tale. I sat down at my desk, at the time I’d set aside for writing, and started looking around, started listening to the static filled radio box inside my brain. Each one-minute play only needs that tiny zip of a line, a character, an image, even a title, to have it flare up for an entire page. I heard one line, from a parent to a child, “I’m sorry, Billy, but we’re going to have to let you go,” and the rest of the play popped right out onto the page. Then a robo-call interrupted me, from the same damn credit card place that calls every other day–zap, there comes another. And another, and another.
People always ask writers where they get their ideas. For me, it’s just a matter of opening up and staying out of the way. They’re always flying around, it’s just a matter of letting them land on the page and not snuffing them out.
What gets me excited about getting to see the One-Minute Play Festival this weekend is the thought of all these sparks of ideas gathered into one space, like a bonfire. Theatre offers the potential for immediacy, the ability to reflect to the audience the state of thought and life in the world, in this place, at this moment. Because of the short lag time from concept to production for this festival, we’ll get to see the concerns of thirty-five playwrights, both personal and political, captured and illuminated, flickering to life for three nights. I’m curious to see what there is to see.
The First Boston One-Minute Play Festival will take place Jan 7-9, 2012 in partnership with Boston Playwrights’ Theatre. 70 new plays by 35+ Boston and New England Playwrights. For tickets and info, click here.