“You can’t write anything of any worth in one minute!”
Over the last decade I have read in excess of 5,000 one minute plays, many have been awful, some worse than awful and some just a selection of words connected together without form or meaning. Over this period I have heard the same phrase, or a variant of it, trotted out by various writers, critics and ‘theatre people’ - “You can’t write anything of any worth in one minute!”. There seems to be in some quarters a feeling that length somehow equates to quality. This has always struck me as odd. Why are some people so scared about the humble one minute play. The argument that no serious writer would work in such a form is obviously without merit, Samuel Beckett had no problem with short works ‘Breath’ lasts less than 30 seconds and Ernest Hemingway’s brilliant flash fiction six word novel:
‘For sale: Baby shoes, never worn’
Speaks for itself. Of the 5,000 plus one minute plays I have read, the majority are ‘okay’ a few are good, even fewer are excellent and a tiny proportion are truly special. The one minute play format is like any artistic challenge, it’s not about the form, it’s about the artist and what they create.
When I now hear or read “You can’t write anything of any worth in one minute!” I now just silently think “well, maybe you can’t but Meron Langsner, Dwayne Yancey, Mark Harvey Levine, Sean Burn, Helen Elliott, Luke Galloway and many, many others can and have.
Writing a one minute play is like any other art form, with techniques and skills to learned and honed. So… Don’t be scared by your own self imposed predjudice and maybe you’ll find with a little practice that you too can write something of worth in one minute.
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