Friday, July 13, 2007


I've discovered a new species of short play: the paralogue.

We recognize a short play that has a dialog structure. Two or more characters talking, each having roughly the same amount of "air time." And of course there is the monologue - be it direct address, poetic, or the interior mental landscape of the character.

But lately I've noticed more and more paralogues. A paralogue is a scene with two (or more) characters, in which one character overwhelmingly dominates the scene. A recent example is Stephen Cone's "We Came Here Because It's Beautiful" present at Collaboraction's Sketchbook.

In Chris Jones' review, he suggests that the pieces juxtaposes an "erotically forward old woman with a nervous new bride." I find that an interesting take: the piece was so dominated by the old woman that I'm not sure it rises to juxtaposition.

Don't get me wrong: I absolutely loved Cone's piece. I'm just wondering what's happening here structurally. In longer works, I tend to view the Character Interuptus as a cheat to disguise a monologue. Character A holds forth while Character Interuptus occasionally interjects to give the illusion of a conversation.

But somehow the same situation seems less artificial in a shorter format. In the paralogue, the domination of one character seems less a trick and more a function of the relationship. What's more, it seems a function of the dramatic structure of the piece. I just can't quite put my finger on what the mechanics are.

Perhaps one way to ask the question is this: in a paralogue, what is it that prevents us from simply cutting the other character and running the scene as a direct address monologue?

1 comment:

Kristi Johnson said...

Hi there,

I Googled "paralogue" for my genetics research, and found your site. You might be interested in knowing that, in genetics, a paralogue is "either of a pair of genes that derive from the same ancestral gene," according to Wikitionary.