Yes, But What’s Your Point?

People seem to be equating length with value, even in the arts. We saw an otherwise excellent one-act play two nights ago, which would have been even better in half the time. Last night we saw a wonderful ballet piece as part of three being performed, and with one of my favorite dancers, but it was an hour long and could have been cut by a third.

Most speeches are far too long, whether commencement at universities or in business conferences. I’m really not motivated to attend a three-hour movie, and with the rare exception of a magnificent (very long) play such as August: Osage County, Broadway seems to be running long performances simply to justify outrageous ticket prices.

Remember you’re dealing with sentient adults. If they have a question, they’ll stop you. Otherwise, keep it brief, concise, pithy, terse. When I ask at the airport where Gate 32 is, I don’t expect to learn about the Wright Brothers.

As a reviewer commented once on a two-line poem: “It’s nice, but there were dull stretches.”

Less is more.


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