Thursday, 1 September 2011

The Length of a Minute, The Length of a Moment

My first memory is of a car crash.

Staring out our living room window, I must’ve been four years old, the inevitable impact unfolded. Two cars crumpled like paper, spilling their guts of gears and engine parts onto the street.

What I can never forget is the way time seemed to stretch and slow itself down to individual, isolated beats.

If a moment can linger and expand, a minute is much longer than we think.

(Scene from Hour of The Wolf by Ingmar Bergman)
The most common form of miniature drama is the TV commercial. Most leave a lot to be desired from an artistic standpoint.

Some, in sixty seconds or less, can offer an experience that resonates across generations.

Digital culture has sliced and diced our lives into even smaller fragments. Twitter has created a space where splinters of random thoughts, jokes, ideas, commerce fly at us from all over the world, often without context or the frames necessary to allow for real communication or understanding. It's like entering a town made entirely of billboards.

There are even Twitter plays:

(by Laura Barbiea, from the Twitter feed of another short-form theatre innovator, The NY Neo-Futurists)

A minute, then, is practically an eternity.

Visit the Gi60 YouTube Channel and you’ll find discreet minutes, each filled with a different confection: comedy, drama, horror, absurdity, observation, melodrama, minimalism, maximalism, lightly drawn sketches, strange scribbles, bold-brushed epics, love stories, ghost stories, innuendo. Some are flavors you've never thought of and would be hard-pressed to classify.

Taken as a whole, the collection can be seen as a meditation on Theatre itself.

My earliest memory had a part to play in writing what would become Moment Before Impact, which takes place in the split-second before a middle-aged husband and wife lose their lives in a car accident.

A single second expands, and the two partake in a cold, clinical accounting of their lives.

According to Pascal’s Wager, by believing in God, we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. If there’s no God, worshiping something that doesn’t exist has no cost. If there is a God and we turn away from him, we risk the incalculable loss of everlasting life.

However, if there's no heaven or hell, and all we have is this one life, isn’t what little time we have here priceless?

Ruben Carbajal is a freelance copywriter and author of the plays The Gifted Program, Portland, Car & Carriage Collide and others. He's proud to have participated in five Gi60 Festivals. You can learn more about him by visiting or following his sardonic tweets @rubencarbajal.

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