Writing for Vaudeville eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 543 pages of information about Writing for Vaudeville.

6.  The Flirtation Two-Act

Usually presented with songs making their appeal to sentiment, almost always marked by at least one change of costume by the woman, sometimes distinguished by a special drop and often given more than a nucleus of plot, this very popular form of two-act sometimes rises into the dignity of a little production.  Indeed, many two-acts of this kind have been so successful in their little form they have been expanded into miniature musical comedies [1].

[1] See Chapter XXX, The One-Act Musical Comedy.

(a) Romance is the chief source of the flirtation two-act’s appeal.  It is the dream-love in the heart of every person in the audience which makes this form of two-act “go” so well.  Moonlight, a girl and a man—­this is the recipe.

(b) Witty Dialogue that fences with love, that thrusts, parries and—­surrenders, is what makes the flirtation two-act “get over.”  It is the same kind of dialogue that made Anthony Hope’s “Dolly Dialogues” so successful in their day, the sort of speeches which we, in real life, think of afterward and wish we had made.

(c) Daintiness of effect is what is needed in this form of two-act.  Dialogue and business, scenery, lights and music all combine to the fulfillment of its purpose.  The cruder touches of other two-act forms are forgotten and the entire effort is concentrated on making an appeal to the “ideal.”  Turn to the Appendix, and read “After the Shower,” and you will see how these various elements are unified.  This famous flirtation two-act has been chosen because it shows practically all the elements we have discussed.



The playlet is a very definite thing—­and yet it is difficult to define.  Like the short-story, painting as we know it today, photography, the incandescent lamp, the telephone, and the myriad other forms of art and mechanical conveniences, the playlet did not spring from an inventor’s mind full fledged, but attained its present form by slow growth.  It is a thing of life—­and life cannot be bounded by words, lest it be buried in the tomb of a hasty definition.

To attempt even the most cautious of definitions without having first laid down the foundations of understanding by describing some of the near-playlet forms to be seen on many vaudeville bills would, indeed, be futile.  For perhaps the surest way of learning what a thing is, is first to learn what it is not.  Confusion is then less likely to creep into the conception, and the definition comes like a satisfactory summing up of familiar points that are resolved into clear words.


Project Gutenberg
Writing for Vaudeville from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook