By Damien Knight
I have read many plays and acted in a few including a production that my father wrote for church. I do not believe a good play has to have a traditional linear story. Some stories work well with flashback scenes or starting at the end then going back and then returning to the end scene. These sorts of story lines are more difficult but very captivating. A linear story line is the simplest method of telling a story and can keep an audience on track but if not done right can also seem trite.
Most plays I have seen lasted two hours. This seems like the ideal length for a play. It can be shorter but any shorter than an hour would seem like a skit and not a full play. The best plays can be on various topics such as “Steel Magnolias” which is inspired by the strength of southern women, or “Midsummer’s Night’s Dream” where the story is about unrequited love’s reversal due to fairy pranks. These both performed on the stage have a great flow of dialogue essential for a good play. Within moments reading the script you know who the characters are and what the dilemma is.
I have a love of theater and a great play requires an unexpected turn of events and when I performed as Pontius Pilot in the Easter play my father wrote I personally believe I acted in the greatest play I ever had. The retelling linear and the crowed chants crucify him. Pontius washes his hands but the twist was the man we follow as the main character is not Jesus but the thief he forgives. For me, the most important element a playwright should consider is keeping the audience interested.