Years ago, I was involved in a college production of a critically acclaimed Sam Shepard play.

Lie Of The Mind 03

At our first read-through, my castmates and I faithfully followed every pause Shepard had written into the script.

Two-and-a-half hours into the read-through, we had barely passed the play’s halfway mark, so the director instructed us to ignore the pauses, which, in all honesty, probably played better in the author’s mind than they ever did onstage.

If we had included every pause, the show, we calculated, would have run nearly four hours. Our ‘pause-free’ college production wound up achieving a running time of just over two hours.

Pauses in dialogue scenes, used sparingly, can add gravity to the drama.

Overuse of the same merely adds to the feature’s running time, resulting in a self-indulgent exercise monotonous for a paying audience.


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