It used to be that cheating husbands and bankruptcy scandals were the stuff only whispered about at parties. No one talked about the dark intimate details of others’ lives in public.
So, when you went to the theater to see a “slice-of-life” show that featured one of these events, it was dramatic. Because it was something the audience didn’t hear about every day.
Now, we have cheating politicians and broke celebrities on the cover of every paper, blog, twitter, and all the other types of media that has been invented in the last 50 years. We’ve had Presidents getting serviced while serving our country. We’ve had Congressmen spending more time on CraigsList than in Congress. We’ve had ball players like Brett Favre playing games with their . . . (I’ll stop here.)
My question is this . . . since dramatic events have become much more apart of our everyday lives, does the drama we create have to become even more dramatic? Do the events we show on stage have to be even more shocking? Do the characters have to be even more extreme?
Is that one of the reasons why God of Carnage was a hit, but the Simon plays failed to take off?
The definition of “dramatic” changes over time. And the playwright doesn’t define it. The audience does.
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