Six Words at a Time
I remember when I first heard about Hemingway’s six-word short story. After reading it, I was floored by the poignancy of the story and how it was achieved with such an economy of words. The closest I’ve come to writing a play in six words has been on Twitter. With a few prompts from New York Neo-Futurists, I’ve written plays no longer than 140 characters.
So, in some ways, having the space for a one-minute play is a luxury. Some of my colleagues don’t feel the same. They question if something that lasts for one minute could really qualify as a play. Obviously, my answer to that question is yes. Within that one minute, a playwright can explore a theme; build an arc with a beginning, middle, end; and develop characters.
Every word counts, though. When you only have one page, editing and rewriting become more important than ever before. You have to get to the heart of the matter right away, and there’s hardly time for a pregnant pause, but it can be done.
Believe me, it’s not easy. Thinking of a story that can be told in the span of a minute is tough. But it’s worth it. I’m convinced that when playwrights can master the shorter expressions of our art, then their longer plays improve. Dialogue becomes sharper and more meaningful and plot is clarified. For me, that’s always something I’m trying to accomplish: becoming a better writer … even if it’s only six words at a time.
The Second Annual New jersey One-Minute Play Festival is presented in partnership and support ofThe New Brunswick Theater Festival (NBTF) for their teaching artist initiatives in the New Brunswick Community. The NJ OMPF is one night only: Sunday January 22nd, at 7PM at Mile Square Theatre in Hoboken, NJ. For tickets click here.