Obligatory Scene Example:
'night, Mother

THE PLAYWRITING SEMINARS > STRUCTURE > SHAPE > DIAGRAM > CLIMAX > OBLIGATORY > DIAGRAM > EXAMPLE >

Order 'night Mother 'I'm always exploring the rules. I want to know which ones are breakable and which ones are not. I'm convinced that there are absolutely unbreakable rules in the theatre, and that it doesn't matter how good you are, you can't break them. . . . The audience must know what is at stake; they must know when they will be able to go home.'

-- Marsha Norman



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Here's an annotated version of 'NIGHT, MOTHER's Obligatory Scene starting from the Climax . . .

CLIMAX: Suspense Plot
MAMA screams to Jessie through the locked 
bedroom door.

SOUND: Pistol shot.
Resolution begins
MAMA slides to floor. No dialogue.
Minor CLIMAX: Emotional Plot
MAMA asks Jessie's forgiveness and admits that 
she didn't own her.
Resolution continues
MAMA wanders into living room, eventually dials 
a number on phone.

MAMA asks to speak to her son, as Jessie had 
told her to do.
Curtain

And here's the same analysis with Marsha Norman's dialogue . . .

'NIGHT, MOTHER
Obligatory Scene

There's nothing really mysterious about this when you stop to think about it. You've reached the Climax of the story you're telling. It's a big moment and it's taken a lot of effort to get there. So you need to take a breath or two before going on. That's the beginning of the Resolution. And once you've caught your breath, you're ready to take on the minor Climax of the Emotional Plot.


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