View single post by Doug B
 Posted: Thu May 20th, 2010 03:34 pm
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Doug B

Joined: Thu May 20th, 2010
Location: Eastsound, Washington USA
Posts: 94
All plays have rules.  They are the rules that the playwright sets.

There are many rules but they vary for each play.  For example, if I am writing a totally realistic play, that is a rule.  If a spaceship swoops down at the climax to rescue the protagonist, I have broken the rule of realism.  That is not to say that I can't have the spaceship rescue the hero but it can't be totally out of context.

In your play, have you alerted the audience that the hero will have hallucinations?

If your protagonist is calm, cool and collected throughout Act One then is a babbling idiot in the second act without any reason or explanation, you have broken the rules.  You need to foreshadow his change so we are not surprised when it happens.

Look at King Lear.  He slides into "madness" and holds "court" in the hovel.  It works because we have seen his slide into the "madness".  I put "madness" in quotes because I'm not totally sure that is what it really is.  If we saw the Act I Scene 1 Lear hold court in the hovel it wouldn't work.

I recently read a play about four old men playing poker.  About 20 minutes into the play the four start talking with four letter words.  The salty language lasted about ten minutes then reverted to the prior language.  There was no reference to it, there was no explanation, there was no reason for it.  There was not a single cuss word anywhere else in the play.  It looked to me like someone other than the playwright wrote those 12 pages.    Or maybe the playwright added that language to appeal to a specific audience who expect coarse language.  The play might have worked but I was so jarred with the language change I would not consider it.  The playwright broke her own rule about who the four characters were.

Whether you write them down or not, you establish many rules for each play you write.  If you break them, the audience will be confused and the play probably won't work.