Our challenge for Day 17 of 29 Plays Later was to “write a play that is shorter than a millisecond or longer than a millennia.”
I got cosmic and spent the evening researching gnosticism, creationism and the Big Bang theory, the moral implications of complex systems theory, explanations for the evolution of bigger brains and human intelligence, deep-learning systems in AI, composing music with recurrent neural networks, the overview effect, and sharing and hoarding in the Neolithic and Bronze ages, and Marjolijn Dijkman’s science fictional timeline from 2008 to 802,701.
I didn’t use any of it. Last week Sarah Mann sent me a screenshot of the character descriptions (dramatis personae) from one of her plays and it was hilarious and suggestive and to me worked as a thing in its own right. Day 17 felt like a good opportunity to construct a story wholly out of prefatory descriptions of the characters and thereby write a play shorter than a millisecond.
This is strongly influenced by J.G. Ballard’s experimental short story “Answers to a Questionnaire” in which we are presented with one hundred answers without their questions, leaving us as to tease out implied narratives and connections.
If you think the millisecond short ‘play’ itself is sheer sport, then have a look at Samuel Beckett’s notorious short play Breath, which at 25 seconds is comparatively epic. It’s a dream of mine to present Breath as an evening performance with an interval.
Day 17 – Dramatis Personae
17_-_DRAMATIS_PERSONAE_-_AJ_DEHANY (pdf, 9pp)