Thursday, December 02, 2004

Playwrights keeping it short and sweet

There is a growing trend among playwrights for short plays without intermissions, reports Charles Isherwood in the New York Times.
Oddly enough, as plays seem to have grown shorter, movies have ballooned. Hollywood doesn't appear to be heeding the conventional wisdom about the American population's decreasing attention span. Over the last couple of decades, the average running time of a movie seems to have inched upward from that appealing benchmark of 90 minutes. Now, even the most formulaic action pictures run a full two hours, if not more. Blame the auteur theory, if you like, which enshrined the director as the sole author of a movie and led to the consolidation of power in directors' hands.

Perhaps it's time theater producers began more aggressively exploiting this disparity. They could promote their shows' running time as a selling point. "Half as long as 'Alexander!' " "Guaranteed to be shorter than a Steven Spielberg movie!"

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