“Short” is “In”

Have you noticed lately that “short” is “in”? I’m not referring to height, of course. I’m talking about short everything from Twitter to Texting to Instagram and Snapchat. It’s no wonder that movies are getting shorter and that yes, even theatre is following suit. Ninety minute or less full-length plays without intermission are becoming quite the thing to fit into younger audiences’ busy lifestyles. And play shorts from ten minutes to thirty are gaining popularity not just in university settings but in theatres across America. The ongoing dilemma of drawing in new audiences has theatres plagued with searching for the “right play” with the perfect appeal. But it may be the length that keeps the younger adults at bay. Who has time to sit for two or three hours when there are places to go and people to see? And what about actors? If you’re finding it more and more difficult to bring in younger actors, it may be the time and rehearsal commitment it takes to fully-realize and develop a full-length play— especially one of those “tried and true” three-hour monarchs of the 20th century. Considering the withering attention spans of many people in contemporary culture and the increased demands on our time, perhaps it’s time to go short. At least for one or two of your productions each year. An evening of short plays is one way to go. Twenty people working two days a week on ten short plays rather than ten people working four days a week on one full-length play may appeal to that busy executive, mother of three, or college freshman you’ve been dying to cast. And think about it— a cast of twenty has the potential to bring in twice the audience! Heartland Plays carries a number of collections of like-themed plays that make up a full evening of entertainment. Or if you prefer variety, selecting individual works on a wide range of subjects by different playwrights each with his or her own unique perspective on life may be just the ticket. Whatever the case, short plays are sure to appeal to the attention-deficit audience struggling to stay focused for more than ten minutes on any one thing.

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