What You See is What You Believe

Dear Readers:

Our final assignment, writing a one-act play, was an awakening. Although I’d seen movies, television shows, and plays since childhood, I’d never analyzed what comprised a pleasing dramatic work. I knew what I liked and didn’t like; what worked and didn’t work. The reading assignment stated the author need not describe the sunrise or the cramped apartment or the steaming jungle because the viewer’s eyes would see those elements for themselves. Setting was one of my strengths and I felt a bit robbed. Secondly, my fondness for telling rather than showing had to be stifled. And letting go of my legal right to add descriptions of the protagonist looking out the window or the antagonist pulling the gun felt like a diet of bread and water. A light bulb snapped on. With dismay, I realized my dramatist role was simple: tell the story using dialogue and action so the audience could put two and two together. Let the audience see conflict, foreshadowing, background, resolution, happy or sad ending. Now the happy face of comedy and the sobbing face of tragedy took on new meaning. And I gained respect for monologues, soliloquies, an aside, a chorus chanting the highs and lows of the heroes and heroines. And playwriters and screenwriters assumed the stature of a colossus wielding a pen. I realized how much I had grown during this introductory class and I knew writing drama was not for me. The plot thickens.

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