Short and Sweet: The Tasteful Value of a Short Play

By Julie Danao-Salkin
Blue Moon Plays Guest Blog

In a generation where short attention spans are easily distracted by the instant gratification of technology or by the next best social media post with thousands of views, the value of short plays still earns its place in the creative hemisphere.

During the crisis of Covid-19, this global pandemic has quarantined human life and oversaturated screen time of daily misinformation, changing statistics of those sick and deaths, and media on politics and the economy.

The need is great for the human soul to be fed in the sustenance of comedy at this time, while also feeding the writers that bring the world just that.

Ten After Ten is a book of short comic plays by Jack J. Berry that the theatre world needs to get their hands on.

But before we review Ten After Ten, let us feast on what a short play is.

What is a short play?

euripides writer of short plays

The short play exists in the form of ten-minute plays and one-act plays. Greek writer, Euripides, wrote an early one-act satire called “Cyclopes” in the fifth century B.C.

The modern one-act play began in the middle of the 20th century, with writers like Henry Ibsen, known to lead the forefront of prose when poetry was once dominated in the medium. Greg Fletcher, director and theatre playwright of “Shorts and Briefs,” says that ten minutes is roughly around ten pages, with characters, a set, and a plot structure that helps to move the story forward with a beginning, middle and end.

The short play idea is encapsulated within a brief window of storytelling, with simple directions, a singular setting, and a small crew of characters.

What is so sweet about the short play?

The First and Only Bite:

photo of an ice cream dessert

Much like the savory bite of a small dessert that makes one want more, the short play has its own unique benefits for any playwright, actor, producer, and theater company to savor.

It is a safe haven for writers to experiment with form and demonstrate technical proficiency, without the worry of the over-bearing strain of writing the full-fledged play. This does not simplify the art, but rather allows the playwright to calculate a story, hitting every element and craftsmanship in a short span. What taste does this short play leave in one’s mouth? Does it raise the citric questions of identity or loss? Or the sourness of dark humor? It depends on how it is written and produced.

The short form to long form:

The process of writing ten-minute plays or one-acts can help the muscle of creating, much like building stamina for any sport. To connect with the theater and literary industry, playwrights can find representation more easily with short plays vs. the long plays.

Although the literary and theater industry does not readily profit from short plays, it gives them an opportunity to learn the scope of a playwright’s skill.

What other reasons make short plays delicious?

When writing, producing, or acting in a short play, the idea centers around how producible the idea is. Greg Fletcher, director and playwright, says “Short plays are produced in compilations that consist of seven to ten plays.”

One of the ways to test the waters of full productions of shorts are festivals. Submitting work to these festivals and fleshing out one’s work will engage one’s skillset to improve as a writer, actor, director, or producer in crafting tight language within the dialogue, more action, and diverse characters.

Why savor the taste of shorts?

As an audience member, you are exploring the delicacies of economic dialogue, action, and character. The short focuses the reader/audience with every nuance of words, almost tantalizing one to get to the point.

Production value is simple, at times limited on purpose to make the dramatic action of characters with dialogue compelling enough to saturate and leave a most distinct flavor of sweetness.

Yellow Brick Road

Ten After Ten Review
Doctoring Justice, Kings and Pawns, Numbers Have Feelings, Original Location, Panacea, The Politics of the Herd, This Isn’t Working Out, Yellow Brick Road Trip, We Value Your Feedback, Heave Ho

Comedies are difficult to write, especially in short play form because characterization, arc, and storylines must be conveyed precisely. The language and characters have to be fully realized to not only have the tempo and timing for audience reaction, but also the goal of realizing short but concise plotlines.

Jack J. Berry has ten delicious stories that can help us endure the lockdown pandemic of 2020. His plays are well written for the comedic actor with amusing storylines and indelible characters. The stories also make the audience ponder the themes and make decisions for themselves.

One way for theatres to find the latest in 10-minute plays is to investigate the many contests that are open to playwrights and find the winners!

Here are some examples of festivals to where writers submit shorts:

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