Wednesday, November 4, 2009


The one-act play has a multitude of definitions. But the one-act I'll be discussing in this article is the traditional 20 to 40-minute play that includes Aristotle's conventional elements of theme, plot, character, and dialogue. It tells a story, although a short one, has a definite beginning, middle, and end, and shows significant change or growth in the main character.

Traditional plays, and often one-act plays, sometimes conform to the unities of drama as discussed by the philosopher Aristotle. These guidelines suggest that a play should take place with a unity of location, time and action. In other words, plays should have one location, be set over a period of no more than one day, and have one central plot. These unities are somewhat more helpful in writing one-acts, as the 10-40 minute running time will not leave a lot of room for set changes or subplots.

It's hard enough to write a full-length play and pack in all the detail, dialogue, action, and relationships in less than about two hours. But if we only have 30 minutes to work with, it's an even tougher task. We can see, a one-act play has to contain all the elements of a full-length show, but in less time. The playwright basically can focus on a single event and the main character. There just isn't enough time for much more than that.

This is much different in the one-act than in the full-length. For a full-length play, the plot is the series and sequence of events that lead the hero (and the audience) on the journey. In a one-act play there is really only time for one significant event. This is the determining place for the hero, where all is won or lost. Events that lead up to this must be incorporated into the script without the benefit of the audience seeing them. And any events that follow must be inferred or understood by the audience that they will occur. Because a one-act play is so short, most playwrights avoid extensive exposition. It is actually based on single plot and even sometimes on single location. If the play is about Mary and John arguing in a restaurant, the audience does not need to know where they were born, how many siblings they have or any information extraneous to the play.

A one-act play usually will have four or less characters that are developed in varying degrees. In some short plays, the roles are balanced equally, in others; some roles may only have a few lines. There is really only enough time in this to get to know one character well -- the hero. In the short time that the one-act play is going, it is the hero's event that the audience is experiencing; again, there isn't time for more than that. Some characteristics of the supporting characters, including the antagonist, will need to be portrayed for the story to move forward, but it is the character of the protagonist that is vital to the story line.

Economy is the key of one act play. Each line must be crafted carefully to focus on the theme, the incident, and the character of the protagonist. The dialogue need not be terse, but must be concise and full of meaning. Any lines that do not point to the focus of the play should be carefully considered whether they are needed.
While discussing over the Play Aristotle also talked of Music and Spectacle. However, for the well-crafted one-act, there likely will not be the luxury of including these to any great degree. The one-act musical has been discussed for years, but hasn't gained much popularity beyond the arena of novelty. As for spectacle, the economy of settings usually means there won't be much in the way of special effects.

Many experts believe that the most important element to any play is conflict. This does not necessarily mean fighting or arguing. A man being sad about throwing away his baby blanket is in conflict with himself. Equally, two people trying to decide what couch to buy is also a conflict. Conflicts are merely a contrast between desires or needs, but they are essential to give a scene and a play life.
If we want to know about one act play, we have to read or have to watch one-act plays to understand how they are written and what can be done with them. Edward Albee is a prominent American playwright and well known for his many famous one act plays. Among his early one-act plays, The Zoo Story (1959), The Sandbox (1959), and The American Dream (1961) established him as an astute critic of American values. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1962; film, 1966), his first full-length play, was widely acclaimed. Albee won Pulitzer Prizes for A Delicate Balance (1966), Seascape (1975), and Three Tall Women (1994). He also adapted other writers' works for the stage, including Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita (1981). Moliere and Anton Chekov both wrote extensive collections of one-acts and their creations are referred as classical literature. David Ives is considered by many theater critics to be the greatest modern mind when it comes to one-act comedies. . In India Rabindranath Tagore is the pioneer of this art. His “Karna and Kunti” is famous One Act Play and has been translated into various languages.

From its antecedents as a convenient curtain raiser, the one-act play has grown to maturity as an adult form in the contemporary theatre. Once again as once before, in the ebullient days of Strindberg, Lady Gregory, Yeats, Synge, the Theatre Libre, O'Neill, and the Provincetown Theatre the one-act play has become an impressive form with which creative dramatists seek to forge new ideas and to project exciting, vivified characters onto the stage. Moreover, experimentation in the drama has been effected recently not in the three-act play, which has long been used as a laboratory of experimentation, but in the short drama, especially the social drama. Look, for example, at Odets' Waiting for Lefty, a short multi-scene play of vigorous impact, utilizing for its swiftly contrived episodes a film technique of dissolves, black-outs, flash backs, and at Irwin Shaw's Bury the Dead, a singularly trenchant play combining fantasy with realism

This tendency on the part of our young venturesome writers to experiment with new forms is significant, for it augurs well of the future drama that the dramatist working within the frame of the one-act play should be anxious to broaden the scope of his material and to try to circumvent the rigid laws of his craft. It is an undisputed fact that, for many years, the one act play has been hindered by antiquated laws of construction, scene, and characterization. Many famous multi act plays like Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Macbeth have been converted into single act or one act play due to attract the generation.

Now it is the time of changing. People have no more time to read a lengthy literary work or to watch a big drama on theatre. Everything is getting changed. So popularity of short literary fiction and drama is increasing day by day. In western countries and even in Eastern countries like India, many young writers are creating various literary fiction and drama and also are publishing and also performing in theatre. If we look beyond England and USA we can realize the popularity of One Act Play. Different competition is being held regularly. Government and many Universities are inspiring the students and young writers to promote the modern edition of Drama. Indian journals and e-medias are trying to promote Short Fictions and One Act Plays written by young writers and playwrights of the country.

Monday, April 13, 2009

IMAGISM in literature

Imagism is the Name given to a movement in poetry, originating in 1912 and led by Ezra Pound. It was a movement in early 20th-century Anglo-American poetry that favored precision of imagery, and clear, sharp language. The Imagists rejected the sentiment and discursiveness typical of much Romantic and Victorian poetry. This was in contrast to their contemporaries, the Georgian poets, who were by and large content to work within that tradition. Group publication of work under the Imagist name appearing between 1914 and 1917 featured writing by many of the most significant figures in modernist poetry in English, as well as a number of other Modernist figures prominent in fields other than poetry.

Based in London, the Imagists were drawn from Great Britain, Ireland and the United States. Somewhat unusually for the time, the Imagists featured a number of women writers among their major figures. Imagism is also significant historically as the first organized Modernist English language literary movement or group. In the words of T. S. Eliot: "The point de repère usually and conveniently taken as the starting-point of modern poetry is the group denominated 'imagists' in London about 1910."At the time Imagism emerged, Longfellow and Tennyson were considered the paragons of poetry, and the public valued the sometimes moralizing tone of their writings. In contrast, Imagism called for a return to what were seen as more Classical values, such as directness of presentation and economy of language, as well as a willingness to experiment with non-traditional verse forms. The focus on the "thing" as "thing" (an attempt at isolating a single image to reveal its essence) also mirrors contemporary developments in avant-garde art, especially Cubism. Although Imagism isolates objects through the use of what Ezra Pound called "luminous details", Pound's Ideogrammic Method of juxtaposing concrete instances to express an abstraction is similar to Cubism's manner of synthesizing multiple perspectives into a single image.

Imagist poems were influenced by Japanese haiku, poems of 17 syllables which usually present only two juxtaposed images. This poetry strives to suggest more than its literal meaning, yet avoids overt figurative devices like allegory and even metaphor.

As one can tell by Pound's use of the word haiku, he clearly had haiku in mind when writing the poem. However, according to the modernist principle of "making it new," Pound does not simply copy haiku, but adapts it to the modern world of subway stations and anonymous faces in the crowd. The form of Pound's poem differs also from classical haiku: it has only two lines and more than 17 syllables. However, like many haiku, it does juxtapose two different images. Other ancient short forms were "made new" by the imagists, most notably the four-line Chinese lyric and the short poems and fragments from ancient Greece collected in the Greek Anthology.

Perhaps because Pound began to see imagism as a "stylistic movement, a movement of criticism rather than creation", he soon moved beyond imagism to a new poetic movement he called vorticism. While the rules and "don'ts" of imagism were designed to improve poetic writing but not necessarily to produce complete poems, vorticism was designed as a movement whose principles would apply to all the arts and be capable of producing complete works of art. Pound also wanted to add to the image further movement, dynamism, and intensity:

An Imagist anthology was published in 1914 that collected work by William Carlos Williams, Richard Aldington, and James Joyce, as well as H.D. and Pound. Other imagists included F. S. Flint, D. H. Lawrence, and John Gould Fletcher. By the time the anthology appeared, Amy Lowell had effectively appropriated Imagism and was seen as the movement's leader. Three years later, even Amy Lowell thought the movement had run its course. Pound by then was claiming that he invented Imagism to launch H.D.'s career.

Though Imagism as a movement was over by 1917, the ideas about poetry embedded in the Imagist doctrine profoundly influenced free verse poets throughout the twentieth century. Imagism influenced a number of poetry circles and movements in the 1950s, especially the Beat generation, the Black Mountain poets, and others associated with the San Francisco Renaissance. In his seminal 1950 essay, Projective Verse, Charles Olson, the theorist of the Black Mountain group, wrote "ONE PERCEPTION MUST IMMEDIATELY AND DIRECTLY LEAD TO A FURTHER PERCEPTION"; his credo derived from and supplemented the Imagists.