Geography

Something I’ve noticed with quite a few new plays, they all take place SOMEWHERE. And the somethings are subordinate to these SOMEWHERES. Despite my newfound taste in humor (seen below), I don’t write with geography controlling my play.

One of my professors is making us taste postmodernist literature, and one of the themes seems to be that you can switch centuries in the same sentence, show no regard to plot, time, or character, but you can’t go outside a certain geographical boundary. Why? Place is just as impermanent as people; continents shift, asteroids crash. What is the nobility of keeping us in the same latitudes and longitudes?

Many plays retain the same setting, and the economy is challenging, yet rewarding. But notice that “setting” does not mean “geographical location.” A play that keeps us in one living room can draw us in before it implodes.

But what do we get from a play that takes place at a party IN TEXAS, then a bus stop IN TEXAS, then a dermatologist’s office IN TEXAS? It ain’t economy, and it probably isn’t even Texas.

In The Bill Show, we do the play in real time and we never leave the hotel. Real time is somewhat of an accomplishment, but hotel containment is not, for the simple reason that we still change the setting. It doesn’t matter if we’re moving down the hall to the ice machine or halfway to the Ukraine, the scene change affects the audience in the same way.

So, what allure does Geography have? Are we *really* learning about a place? About the landscape conditions or the culture of its people? We’d better be, because systematically, geographical containment means nothing for the stage. We may write a SOMEWHERE, but the stage is never anywhere.

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