So, You’re Thinking About Seeing a Play -The Toast

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Dedicated to the author’s friend Ali, who once said to her: “You don’t realize this because you go see so many plays, but normal people do not go to plays.”

The play is and is not real.

A play is a movie that can spit on you.

A play is what that thing is in the line “the play’s the thing.”

If your friend wrote the play, do not tell her upon curtain that “the actors were really talented.” Actors are popsicle sticks painted with eyes and animated by her mind and your praise can immolate itself on a bonfire stoked with those sticks, thanks.

Just playing, we love actors; they are magicians! But did you think the people who make theater come equipped with really chillaxed, totally low-maintenance egos? A compliment to something other than the script is but the absence of a compliment to the script. This void will grow. It will become a cold hole into which the writer must needs fall. The hole never ends. The hole has amazing lighting and vivid costumes and otherworldly sound quality, and it never ends.

Also “it was really wordy” isn’t a compliment, Mom, don’t try to ret-con that.

Whatever compliments or criticism you have to offer don’t really matter; they won’t even be heard, since your writer friend’s corporeal self has already dissolved through the theater seats back into the primordial ooze.

(Obviously, don’t offer criticism.)

Not being friends with people who write plays is also allowed.

If you’re wondering which aspects of the plot the writer is responsible for, remember that the answer is: all of them. Unlike screenwriters, who are paid grand sums to write the script but let everyone else redo it, playwrights are in charge. The writer friend of yours told everyone what to do and they have to do it. It’s not like that party where she said let’s do shots! and everyone was like “meh” and it’s not like the other time when she suggested maybe you should all assign each other roles from Les Miserables and have a group singalong to the Tenth Anniversary Concert but nobody even did.

The writer friend wrote all of the characters, too, including the ones who sound different from the other ones. Just how a play is!

Yes, that gay character is still gay even if she stands next to a man.

People who write theater reviews are, in general, very, very, very easily provoked. The play mentioned race? It was written by a girl? It took place somewhere? Provocative! Manage expectations. If you came of age with YouTube, you might not be provoked so hard.

A talkback is when upper-middle-aged-and-beyond men will explain the play to you.

Ticket price and play quality have very little to do with one another, so don’t compensate with applause so as to validate your purchase. You’re cheapening this for everyone else.

Unless it’s your writer friend’s play. Clap to the brink of rioting.

There are like, twelve possible endings to plays, and eight of them are “someone’s pregnant.”

The questions characters ask of themselves or God are not meant to be answered by an audience member, but thanks, lady at the Saturday night performance of The Whale.

Usually don’t make out at a play, unless the energy is really there, which it wasn’t at that same Saturday performance of The Whale, a drama about suicidal depression and codependence and some other stuff I would have noticed more if that couple hadn’t been furiously making out.

Saturday night audiences are lawless, godless mobs.

Thursday night audiences have never known joy, or perhaps any other human emotion.

Plays are really fun, though! Go see them!

A “staged reading” is and is not a play. If you are the parents of a writer who tells you about a staged reading of her work, please stop asking her when her play is being produced. Every time she explains that it is actually just a staged reading — a “development” opportunity — it is like admitting to yet another classmate that your hot prom date is in fact a visiting cousin.

If you know someone who is doing a non-equity show in a small town west of Oneonta, it’s better not to tell all your neighbors that she “has a play in New York.”

Plays where women get lines are superior plays.

A whole play can happen without a single white person in it.

Most plays produced are by white men named David because that’s how America is. In discussions about how to change this, some guy will invariably say in a cautionary tone “a play must be judged on its merits alone,” and it’s very awkward for everyone involved because… Yikes, David. Did you think white privilege was a merit-based system?

“Yikes, David” sums up my feelings about a great many plays/everything.

A movie is a play, but in prison.

High school is about plays, college is about a capella groups, and the rest of adult life is about Netflix. I’m trying to understand why mainstream culture is less invested in theater and this is as far as I got.

A play is a screaming book.

A play lowers night cholesterol and decreases your risk of standing.

A play is eternal and ephemeral. It is collaborative. It is alive. This is an obnoxious and yet true answer for why some of us don’t like to share scripts with acquaintances. It is meant to be sensed and lived, not read, and it cannot happen alone.

Nonetheless we gladly, humbly, vampirically accept your interest in our work and shall feed on it for many nights to come.

If you wear a bulky jacket to a play, you really should take it off before the show starts. Every time you move or breathe the audience hears it crinkling. Bear in mind theaters have only two temperatures: “The Iceman Cometh” and “the air conditioning is too loud to run during the show.” But you have to take off that jacket no matter what, because that’s how a play is.

Abbey Fenbert is a nomadic playwright from Detroit, MI. She has an MFA from Boston University and a cursory knowledge of classic lit from PBS Kids.

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