Perfection Learning brings us a PDF sampler of their Drama for Reading And Performance textbook, featuring none other than a section on teaching the David Ives short play Variations on the Death of Trotsky. That’s right, dissect that humor! Kill that frog!

But the really interesting part is this quote about play endings:

Comic scenarios like those in this play often end in a “blackout.” Traditionally, such scenes end when the stage lights go quickly to black. In this play and some others, a bell rings and stops the action. Some contemporary plays end when characters freeze and a stagehand simply yells “blackout!”

We know about Ives’s Pavlovian approach to theatre, but what’s that about shouting “blackout”? Sounds more like an evening of contemporary play readings to me.

But what if we could get away with this? What if all you had to do was have someone utter “blackout” to end the play? It may be time to start bribing stagehands….

Hamlet …And all for nothing! For Hecuba! What’s Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba—

Stagehand Blackout!

Yes! More time for me to eat Tootsie Rolls!

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