I ask the question "What is a play" somewhat facetiously, but it's been on my mind as I go through the 31 Plays 31 Days and come up with a play a day. What makes a play a play? What defines a play?
According to the "rules" of 31P31D, a play must have a beginning, middle, and end. And that's about it. But there's trouble with short plays, as I would assume most plays coming out of daily writing would be short, (Ain't nobody got no time for a full-length play in a single day). The trouble is that when you get into short plays (Ten minute and especially one minute plays), there's the danger of writing skits (bum bum buuuum!) and not plays.
A skit, as I understand it to be, is a silly scene that is simply that. Silly. And that's it. It's clever and humorous and there's no character development. There's no real conflict. It's superficial. That's the worst part of a skit.
I love skits. Skits are fun. I just don't like writing them.
That being said, I wrote one last night. No character development, shoddy characterizations, and lots of bad jokes. I committed my sin.
I joke, of course, but what upset me more than the fact that I had written a skit-like play was the fact that it wasn't theatrical. What do I mean by that? There's no need for the sklay (skit/play hybrid) to be on a stage. It could have been a scene from a sitcom. It could be a comedy routine. There was nothing intrinsically theatrical about it. It didn't need the stage.
For me, a play is as much about the space as it is the plot, story, and character. What about the play needs a live audience present? What about the play needs that kind of personal, intimate engagement?
I know that the impetus of the 31P31D effort is not to get so heady about how we define something as a "play." It's just something rolling through my mind as I challenge myself to not over think things and just get words onto the page each day.
Day 7. Gotta finish today's play. And if it turns out to be a sklay, that's okay.