Just before I read Poet's play, I was considering this, and the play really hit it home.
One of the most delicious plots to play with in a play is people stuck places...in an elevator, strange room, waiting room, etc. Cell phones/texting/email...all makes our jobs as playwrights a little more difficult. Before, it was easy enough to set up that kind of scenerio...now, way more difficult.
As an example. I have a play, Shaking the Dew from the Lilies. Five women accidentally locked over-night in a mall bathroom. It's important to the play that they stay in there all night, however at this time in the history of instant communication, it's a bit of a stretch. Initially, one woman left her cell in the car, one was out of juice, the others didn't have one. in 2000, that wasn't a stretch. Today, it is. And so I had to go back into the play, and make sure the play was set in a bathroom in the basement of a mall, so it was feasible that none of their cells worked...still a bit of a stretch.
So is anyone else finding that those wonderfully perilous situations are harder to create due to the devices we now all carry with us?
Paddy here in Australia we're hearing a coroner's inquest into the death of a young bush walker who had a mobile phone with him and who rang the emergency number several times. He got through each time to be asked question like.... what is your street address?
"So is anyone else finding that those wonderfully perilous situations are harder to create due to the devices we now all carry with us?"
Have a similar situation with one of my short comedy plays, "The Lemon." It focuses on the trials-and-tribulations of a female stuck in a busy intersection with her very broken down car. The premise of the play is the owner of the car calling out for help in a public phone booth being interrupted by another person who wants to use it (phone booth). Logically, the women would most likely have a cell phones but then again, public phone booths still exist indicating that they are still being used. So IMHO - the play works although I mention that her cell phone bill wasn't paid.
Last edited on Sat Apr 25th, 2009 08:42 am by tragedian
Very good question. Part of the role of the audience is to "suspend their disbelief." But today's audiences are pretty savvy, being exposed to "storytelling" constantly on TV.
For example, on "Bones" the other night there was a character whose gender wasn't easily identified. As the other characters argued back and forth at the possible gender I found myself yelling at the TV "Just follow her to the bathroom!" Of course the writers had another idea, and the payoff at the end was funny, but I let my logic get in the way of their storytelling.
With a little creativity there are ways around the cell phone (unpaid bill, no service, afraid of brain cancer, etc.) But I wonder if not even mentioning them at all would help or hurt. I don't know the answer. If they were just taken out of the equation would the audience go along with it?
Afraid of brain cancer! Hadn't thought of that one! As you point out, Vanessa, people notice something questionable so why give them something negative on which to focus? It's better to mention it - in passing.
I don't own a cell phone either. Use a radio phone as a courier though. The last full length contemporary play I wrote used ordinary phone lines as the basis of comedy and menace both. The central character is a telephone psychic, and the most dangerous confrontation in the play is brought about by phone communication but is the one moment two characters directly, physically interact. Maybe the thing is to explore the drama implicit in these devices if they can't be left out of consideration.
Of course, up in the mountains around NY State there's no communication tower. so cellphone usage doesn't exist. And if it does the signal is far too weak in some areas. Such a remote location would restrict the participants.
Limitations sometimes serve us.
On the otherhand, I think we've all run into situations which are difficult to deal with.
It's much easier with one person...I have five ladies to contend with. I didn't want to spend so much time thinking about the bloody cell phones, but neither do I want the audience to spend time thinking about the bloody cell phones.
So...maybe I make their hair bigger. Give one a gold this head band, and have Tainted Love or Cindy Lauper drift through the door each time it opens.
Thing is...might be a good idea...the play was actually written for about 1987.