Thursday, October 29, 2009

Time Question

In a recent thread on the Plays and Playwrights Yahoogroup a number of participants asked what it meant when it is written in the body of the play that it takes place in "the present" (presumingly when it was written) but that "present-day" references are often dated by the time of a given production.

Of course to my mind, even "the present" is a specific milieu; stories set in "the present" rapidly recede into historical fiction. Certainly, when I chose to set Total War in the 1990s, and not "the present" it meant that the characters would be making cultural and political references and using technologies of that era and not of "the present" I currently inhabit.

As a consequence, I made a small number production notes throughout the script in order to explain some of these technologies that are either no longer in use, or may be disappearing in the foreseeable future. The result was an instance of an unintended outburst of laughter when at the last staged reading, the audience heard stage manager, Anika M. Colvin-Hannibal read aloud:

[NOTE: Due to the time period in which this play is set, a "Dictionary" is a large bound book with a finite number of pages of paper, and not a potentially infinite digital hypertext.]

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