Writing for Vaudeville eBook

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

But still there would be no plot—­and consequently no playlet—­if Harry had acknowledged himself beaten after his first futile interview with Angela.  The entanglement is there—­Harry has to untangle it.  He has to win Angela again—­and how he does it, on Miss Carey’s tip, you may know from reading the playlet.  But, if you have read it, did you realize the dramatic force of the unmasking of Fred—­accomplished without (explanatory) words, merely by making Fred run out on the stage and dash back into his room again? There is a fine example of the revealing flash!  This incident—­made big by the dramatic—­is the ironical solvent that loosens the warp of Angela’s will and prepares her for complete surrender.  Harry’s entrance in full regimentals—­what woman does not love a uniform?—­ is merely the full rounding out of the plot that ends with Harry’s carrying his little wife home to happiness again.

But, let us pursue this examination further, in the light of the preceding chapter.  There would have been no drama if the meaning of these incidents had not—­because Angela is a “character” and Harry one, too—­been inherent in them.  There would have been no plot, nothing of dramatic spirit, if Harry had not been made by those events to realize his mistake and Angela had not been made to see that Harry was “no worse” than another man.  It is the change in Harry and the change in Angela that changes their relations to each other—­therein lies the essence of the plot. [1]

[1] Unfortunately, the bigger, broader meaning we all read into this satire of life, cannot enter into our consideration of the structure of plot.  It lies too deep in the texture of the playwright’s mind and genius to admit of its being plucked out by the roots for critical examination.  The bigger meaning is there—­we all see it, and recognize that it stamps The Lollard as good drama.  Each playwright must work out his own meanings of life for himself and weave them magically into his own playlets; this is something that cannot be added to a man, that cannot be satisfactorily explained when seen, and cannot be taken away from him.

Now, having determined what a plot is, let us take up its structural parts and see how these clearly understood principles make the construction of a playlet plot in a measure a matter of clear thinking.


We must swerve for a moment and cut across lots, that we may touch every one of the big structural elements of plot and relate them with logical closeness to the playlet, summing them all up in the end and tying them closely into—­what I hope may be—­a helpful definition, on the last page of this chapter.

The first of the structural parts that we must consider before we take up the broader dramatic unities, is the seemingly obvious one that a plot has a beginning, a middle and an ending.

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Writing for Vaudeville from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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