The New Generation of Classic Short Stories

Vol. 4, No. 4

How to Read a One-Act Play

by Paul Rudnick

  1. Find a comfortable chair or chaise, yet imagine you are nestled in a highly prized house seat, just after the play has opened to unanimous raves and has been awarded at least three Pulitzers, because the jury just got giddy. Such commercial and critical acclaim are extremely common for one-act plays.

  2. Picture a dream cast, perhaps Meryl Streep, Morgan Freeman, and Jim Carrey; one-act plays often attract such performers.

  3. As you read, nod and chuckle to yourself at random intervals, murmuring, "So apt," "This playwright has revolutionized the one-act form," and "If only I were such a fine playwright, my life would be redeemed."

  4. At the conclusion of the play, spontaneously leap to your feet and applaud until your palms bleed. Then dash to the nearest ATM, withdraw the maximum amount, stuff the bills into an envelope, and mail them to the playwright; enclose a tear-stained note that reads, "This isn't nearly enough to compensate you for your insights--more cash to follow."