-- Robert Auletta
Available Now: Playwriting Seminars 2.0
The revised and expanded e-book edition.
Here's the full Table of Contents and ordering link for the new edition.
A good Curtain Line lives -- if it does at all -- in a context.
It's possible to have a Curtain Line fall from the sky with no relationship to anything in the scene or act, but you'll be at the end of a very short line of playwrights who've tried this. This is a technique best left to Farce, or at least the wildest of comedies. The good news is, this approach can occasionally get you something like the old Saturday Night Live
classic . . .
Missiles headed for New York. News at Eleven!
EMIKO Because I must keep the dream alive ... the dream is all I live for. I am only in exile now. Because if I give in, all I've lived before ... will mean nothing ... will be for nothing. ...Because if I let you make me believe this is all there is to my life, the dream would die ... I would die ... (She pours another drink and feels warm and good. Fade out.)
KATHERINE Please, someone help! MARGARET I can't hear you ... Kitty, Kitty ... KATHERINE I've lost someone, a young man, he's not well, he may have fallen. (She blows and blows the whistle, as Margaret continues to call down from the balcony. The roaring [of a vast multitude] is almost unbearable. Ganesha claps his hands together. Once and all sounds stop. Twice and the others all freeze. The third time and all the lights snap off for the end of Act One.)
MERV You don't have to do anything fancy. I would just like it very much if I could hear you sing. SARA Merv, I have every Sinatra song ever recorded. How 'bout we let Frank sing? MERV But he was never a Cliffe Clef. SARA Please, Merv, pick a Sinatra song and let's go upstairs. (Merv puts on "Just The Way You Look Tonight." He begins singing.) MERV Lovely, don't you ever change, Keep that breathless charm ... Take it, Sara ... SARA (Quietly) Merv, I just can't sing for you. (Merv touches her face and begins leading her upstairs, singing.) MERV Just the way you look tonight.
VALENTINE Well, the other thing is, you'd have to be insane. (Valentine leaves. Hanna stays thoughtful. After a moment, she turns to the table and picks up the Cornhill Magazine. She looks into it briefly, then closes it, and leaves the room, taking the magazine with her. The empty room. The light changes to early morning. From a long way off, there is a pistol shot. A moment later there is the cry of dozens of crows disturbed from the unseen trees.)