It’s Friday Question Day, and weekend three of my play GOING GOING GONE at the Hudson Theatre in Hollywood. Hope you can see it and realize that the half-price ticket offer makes it well worth it to fly to Los Angeles from wherever in the world you are. And tonight, there will be a meet-and-greet before the show. Just go here for tickets and information.
Wayne starts us off:
Going to see your play next week. (Now THAT’S the way to get your FQ answered.)
What is the running time of a full-length play?
What is the page count of the scripts?
Lengths vary. Some are as short as an hour, NICHOLAS NICKLEBY was something like twelve hours. Bring a sandwich.
Generally plays are in the 90 minute to two hour range, but not necessarily. Eugene O’Neill tends to go long. I've teased him about that.
And musicals are generally two-plus hours with an intermission. They always talk about the “11:00 number.” That’s the big wind up show stopping song, and if you do the math – if opening curtain is at 8:00, there’s a fifteen or twenty minute intermission, and then the show ends around 11:10 – that’s close to three hours of performance.
My play runs 90 minutes with no intermission. That’s sort of the new trend – eliminating intermissions, playing straight through. For my comedy that all takes place over one night in the same locale, that’s ideal.
What’s interesting to me is that many theaters prefer no intermissions. You’d think they’d want the break to sell more concessions. It’s not like they could have vendors going down the aisles during HAMILTON yelling, “Peanuts! Get yer peanuts, here!” (Although for my play about baseball that might work.)
In the play format each page is about a minute. Mine’s a little shorter because it zips along. GOING GOING GONE is 81 pages.
Here’s another theater question from an Anonymous reader:
I'd be interested to hear about the business end of playwriting.
Say I'm 22 and newly arrived from Genesco, Illinois. I've got the most brilliantly written piece of art since Deuteronomy. I've got an apt in the dumpy heart of Hollywood and 12-year-old Toyota. Now what? I don't know anybody in LA and I don't make friends easily. Nobody back home knows anybody in LA. I'm ready to knock on doors but where are the doors? How does this business work? It's not like there's an ad on Craig's List for "Playwright Wanted." What, at the most basic fundamental level, do I do to get started?
First off, use your name. Plays written by “Anonymous” rarely get produced.
Then join ALAP, the Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights. They’re a great organization with many events and chances to network.
Check to see what theater companies in town have playwrighting units; support groups that hear and critique each other’s work.
See if there are extension courses at UCLA. The idea is to meet people and become a part of the theater community. Go see a lot of small theater. Often the playwright or director will be there. They’re usually accessible if you tell them you loved their play. Even if you lie. I know it works with me.
But ALAP is your best first bet.
Andy Ihnatko wonders:
As the author of the play AND an experienced booth announcer, which is harder: watching an actor make a choice with your character that you didn't originally imagine and don't immediately agree with, or watching an actor choose to do things that look perfectly normal to anyone in the audience, but make you want to scream "WE NEVER BLOW ON OUR COFFEE CUPS THE COFFEEMAKERS ARE ALWAYS SO ANCIENT THAT THEY BARELY CAN MAKE ANYTHING WARM!!! SO FAKE!!!!"?
I can always express my concerns to the director, and that generally clears things up.
Yes, it’s frustrating if an actor makes a choice that to me doesn’t ring true. But often an actor will make a choice I hadn’t considered and it’s better than what I had envisioned. So you take the good with the bad, but generally there’s way more good.
And finally, Steve has a television question about unforeseen circumstances.
What do you do if a death or other event happens between taping a show and broadcasting it makes some of the jokes seem in questionable taste?
Unforeseen circumstances occur more often in dramas than comedies. World events such as plane crashes or terrorist attacks that mirror events on some entertainment shows often result in the shows being forced to scramble or postponed until enough time has passed. That happened with the 24 pilot as I recall.
What’s your Friday Question?