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Great plays…but…

Just spent a very rewarding weekend in Shepherdstown, WV, at the Contemporary American Theater Festival. Six plays in 48 hours, including two standouts, for me: “The House on the Hill” by Amy Witting and “Thirst” by C. A. Johnson.

Excellent as they were, though, both plays displayed something I seem to encounter more and more. Authors/playwrights just don’t know when to end their pieces. Each play had one or more fine opportunities to come to a very satisfying ending, and I found myself prepped for the house lights to fade…then, darn it all, they came back for another scene…or two.

It’s tempting to take the “I know when it’s time” approach to endings. An author’s instincts should suggest when enough has been said and done. Yet every ending leaves unresolved story lines and other ambiguities, and a conscientious author doesn’t want to irritate the reader/viewer with big gaps.

I appreciate that, but there are also times when I want to say to the playwright, Trust me. I get it.

The festival goes on through July 29.


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