February 3rd, 2004

mepublicenemy

Night of January 16th

There is a new production of this play, in New York, and I can't wait to see it. In terms of the number of times I have seen it done, it is obviously my favorite play. Information about this production is at: http://schlisa.beigetower.org/

In playwriting classes and manuals, they will tell you that exposition should be kept to a minimum in a modern play. But perhaps the courtroom drama is the obvious exception. It is chock full of exposition, the retelling of what has gone before. One problem with exposition in a play is justifying it. In other words, why does Joe say to Moe, "We were best friends growing up." People don't usually talk like that; it is stilted and unmotivated to just *say* that. But suppose Joe is asking Moe for a favor and Moe is resisting granting it. Then Joe has a reason to remind Moe that they were always best friends, as an emotional persuader. The other trouble with exposition is making it interesting. Information about their childhood friendship is more interesting when it appears on Joe's side in a dramatic tug of war, rather than just a preliminary (yawn) sketching in of necessary info.

But fortunately the retelling in a trial is well motivated, since it is the very task of a trial to determine what happened. And it is made dramatic by the sheer contest of the trial itself, particularly a murder trial.

Silly poem of the day:

Exposition:

What Moe
Says to Joe
About days long ago.

Actually, it doesn't have to be about days long ago. It can be about what happened five minutes ago.

Moe: Hey. We did it. We just robbed a bank.
Joe: Yeah. And, boy, did we get a lot of money.
Moe: Thank God we made it here to our hideout.
Joe: It's a damn shame I had to kill that guard.

Well, hopefully they will be arrested for bad dialogue.