Discovering Plays by Isabella Hansen

Before coming to Creative Writing, my exposure to plays were very limited. I saw “A Christmas Carol” when I was 9 and acted in a “Tale of Two Cities” at 13. I used to have a specific idea of what a play should be in my head: a perfect plot, easy to decipher characters and a message which was usually something about love or a cheating scandal. Throughout this year’s playwriting unit, I learned a very important lesson. Plays definitely do not need solid plots. Our unit’s artist in residence, Connor Bassett introduced a multitude of plays with different styles that experimented with the one question that has directed my whole entire thinking behind playwriting. How do you write a good ending?

The one play that I think really taught me that playwriting does not need to obey a strict set of parameters is “Waiting for Godot” by Samual Beckett. “Waiting for Godot” experiments with the idea that endings do not need to be concrete and solid in order for the play to be effective. Over the course of the play viewers watch as two characters, Vladimir and Estragon, wait for a man named Godot. What really struck me was how unique it was, so unique that during a performance, over half the crowd walked out during intermission. Now it is used as an example of the most stimulating plays of all time. 

The play “Crime of the Century” utilizes other forms of performance tools such as spoken word, dancing and recordings to better emphasize the effect gang violence has on youth. As I was watching, I was drawn to how “Crime of the Century” excluded conventional tools of plays such as plot but still remained potent and influential. Now, one thing I try to think about whenever I write plays is to not stick to the common endings I find myself writing so often and to try and explore different ways of ending my plays. 

Isabella Hansen, Class of ’23

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