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The Playwrights Forum > General > Question & Answer > Length of a Play: The First Act v. The Act 2?

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Length of a Play: The First Act v. The Act 2?  Rating:  Rating
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 Posted: Sat Mar 12th, 2016 12:25 am
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drstevenmbrown
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Mana: 
I have just finished another new play: ELEANOR R: The First Lady of the World." It is a one actor play about the life of Eleanor Roosevelt.  I am laboring over the fact that Act 2 is about 12-13 minutes longer than Act 1. The entire play is about 13,000 words...or 108 pages. 

I always try to make Act 2 a bit shorter...because of the audience....this is a one person play...it is gripping and laden with many facts and life stories about Mrs. Roosevelt.

What's your opinion about lengths of Acts 1 and 2. Better yet, should I worry more about letting the story-line and the flow dictate the time...and not some stupid formula?

Thanks,

Steve in Wisconsin




Last edited on Sat Mar 12th, 2016 12:25 am by drstevenmbrown

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 Posted: Sat Mar 12th, 2016 01:30 am
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Edd
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Mana: 
Steven, Better yet, you could not be more correct, let the storyline have its way and follow your instinct. Period.

Are you certain the play needs 2 acts?

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 Posted: Sat Mar 12th, 2016 06:19 am
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drstevenmbrown
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Mana: 
Thanks for the reply. I agree. Let the story dictate the flow. Regarding needing an Act 2...my only driving force would be the length of the total play at 90 minutes...give or take...and thinking about the audience.  It's always a crap shoot ...how long should we expect the audience to sit...without a break?

I know that the story in this case will "carry the day...or evening...", but I also try to be aware of the side issues.

Thoughts?
Thanks,
Steve

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 Posted: Sat Mar 12th, 2016 11:16 pm
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in media res
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Mana: 
Steven,

I don't understand your last comment. Can you clarify for me?

Do you mean to say the running time (without intermission) if the show is 90 minutes as it now stands?

If so, I would suggest by all means keep it in one act. Who would want an intermission from Eleanor Roosevelt?! Unless you just want to sell refreshments at intermission?!

If it goes longer, definitely an intermission. We all need a pee break once in awhile.

My wife and I just stayed this past autumn quite near FDR's place in Hyde Park while visiting freinds out in The Berkshires and The Catskills. I had visited HP before a couple of times, as I lived in NYC for many years and visited The Castkills many times. But not my wife. Sooooo...We spent three days going again and again to the Museum. We had intended on travelling around more, but just kept gravitating to Hyde Park. We had planned on one day! That is how interesting FDR and Eleonar are. She moreso than he in many ways. I told the ranger at Eleonor's house - as they had separate houses in their later years - that her presentation of Eleonar's house and life was the best/most thorough I had ever experienced in the National Park Service! Quite informative. So you have a great subject.

Have you seen the Video of Julie Harris as Emily Dickinson? Exquisite!


Best of luck with this!

IMR

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