Apologies, I know I'm going off-topic here, I promise this will be my last post on the matter :)

On 23 Jan 2012, at 07:57, Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets wrote:

> On 23 January 2012 01:27, Sam Stutter <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> K.I.S.S. You've got an hour and 8 characters tops for a full play. One act
>> I'd say 30 minutes and 5 characters. If it's sectarian conflict you're
>> looking at, that's 3 conlangs tops.
> Huh? I have no issue with the rest of this post, but as amateur director,
> actor, and theatre audience, I can tell you those time durations are
> nonsense. An audience can easily sit through a 50-min one act play, and two
> hours (including break) for a full play. Anything shorter is a *sketch*,
> not a play!

From a production point of view, yes. What I'm talking about is the limitations placed upon productions by organisers. Okay, so 30 minutes is a little short, but most festivals I've come across drive for show times of about 45 minutes.

> If people can sit through a one-and-a-half-hour movie without breaks, they
> can easily sit through a slightly longer play with breaks.

Ooh. I wouldn't risk it. Most theatre productions in my experience, along with musicals, music performances, operas, ballets, etc have regular breaks. If a show is 1.5 hours, then I would expect a break at 45 minutes. Perhaps at the 1 hour mark so the second half is snappier. Cinema appears to be the exception to this rule (and a rather recent exception: didn't cinema used to follow the A movie B movie principle?)

> 50 minutes is a
> perfectly normal time for a one-act play. Or have American audiences such a
> short attention span?

British audiences in my case. And, yes, 50 minutes is alright.

> If I went to a theatre play that advertised as a full
> play, and it lasted only an hour, I'd ask for half my money back!

If it lasted any more than an hour I would start getting pissed off, especially if it was new writing. 15 minutes is a great length of time for a play!

> I agree, however, to limit the amount of characters. Still, if Stoppard can
> manage to put 8 characters in a one-act play (_The Real Inspector Hound_, a
> great play for critics ;) ), you have got some leeway.

Love "The Real Inspector Hound". But then again, he is Stoppard and he can pull it off.

>> One-act play. That's one room and you're gonna manage a single imitation
>> firearm and a strobe light. I know writing workshops always go on about
>> "writing what you want and then dealing with practical considerations
>> later" but, with indie theatre particularly you should always bear in mind
>> that 1 director, 1 producer, 1 sound engineer, 1 lampie and 1
>> costume/makeup designer have got to pull it off.
> You've got very little confidence in what people can do, haven't you?

Yes :)

> Our
> small amateur group has done much better than that with that same amount of
> people! I'm talking for instance about a full panto with sword fights,
> magic tricks, smoke, zombies, and a 2-meter dragon! Weapon fire in a
> one-act play is easy in comparison.

Maybe its a UK thing, but my experience of imitation fire-arms is that they're almost as difficult to get as *real* guns. My experience of stage-hazers is that a lot of venues simply ban them on fire-precautions grounds. And health and safety hate swords, anything which is slightly pointy, lights which haven't been officially tested by a professional electrician, fabrics which haven't been fireproofed, anything touching the floor, etc, etc :D 

The thing is (and I don't mean this as any slight) but panto is panto. Panto is an experience; it's all craziness and silly things happening. It's so hard to make sword fights and action sequences look and feel real. Star Wars IV is a case in point; the reason it's so good is that George Lucas couldn't do the sequences he wanted because of technical limitations.

The best shows I've ever seen have had no set, no make-up, barely any sound or lighting design, no scene changes, no particular costumes, no nothing. They've all been less than an hour. Direction, direction, direction. 

A friend took a show to a load of festivals. He used one car, because the show consisted entirely of 6 housebricks. He won every student drama award going!

Last great show I saw had a cast of 1 and the entire set consisted of a fishbowl and a white backcloth. 

> Of course, not everything is possible, but you should have more confidence
> in our abilities.

As an ex-lampie, I agree, anything *is* possible, so long as you have enough money.

> I agree with the rest of this post.
> -- 
> Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets, who's directing _The Bald Soprano_ from
> Ionesco (50 min, 6 characters) in our next (60th!) production. The other
> act of the production will be... The Real Inspector Hound! ;)

Wish I could see it :)