View single post by Chas Belov
 Posted: Tue Jul 5th, 2011 02:52 am
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Chas Belov


Joined: Mon Jul 4th, 2011
Location: San Francisco, California USA
Posts: 1
I believe it is helpful to have a specific number so one doesn't send one's play to a theatre that is not receptive on the basis of length. Unfortunately, many theatres saying they want full-length plays don't say on their website how long they consider to be full-length. One might try to suss it out from their production history, but, again, many theatre websites don't include a production history.

That said, I think 90 minutes would be accepted as full-length by virtually all theatres, 70 minutes by a growing number of theatres and 45-60 minutes only for special cases, including the aforementioned Picasso at the Lapin Agile or Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape.

2-1/2 hours is not unusual and I've seen plays much longer including The Lily's Revenge by Taylor Mac (4-1/2 hours) and Passion Play by Sarah Ruhl (3 hours). I believe Homebody/Kabul by Tony Kushner runs 3-1/2 and others have given long examples. But I suspect max for an unknown playwright would be about 2 hours.

My own play Rice Kugel ran 110 minutes in staged reading, but from watching the audience it seemed to be 10 minutes too long in the first act, and they were confused about the ending in the second act. So I wound up cutting 10 minutes off the first act and adding 5 minutes to the second, for a new estimated length of 105 minutes.

I'd recommend running your play by an audience in the form of a reading before you go adding content for the sake of length. If they express wanting to know more about something, that might be the key as to what might need to be added. But if they are satisfied you add at your peril.

I'll note August Wilson's plays, which I love, tend to the long side.

Last edited on Tue Jul 5th, 2011 02:58 am by Chas Belov