Unlike what happens in literature or cinema, in theatre (both in its textual and performative dimensions) a precise distinction between a long form (generically standardized and corresponding to a novel or a feature film) and a short one (roughly comparable to a short story or a short film) has never been codified. At least in the modern Western world, drama has been traditionally identified with a work (usually divided into acts) with a running time long enough to entertain an audience for one night. Since they could not ‘fill the bill’ for one night, short dramas have been widely ignored and underestimated by critics and drama theorists alike, even though they have successfully stood next to longer pieces since the origins of theatre itself in the form of interludes, farces performed at the end of plays, levers du rideau, and so on. In fact, it was only from the nineteenth century onwards that one-act plays were officially acknowledged in Naturalist and, later on, Symbolist theatre and short forms – at least if compared to traditional dramaturgy – found their place within the ‘serious’ drama production. This phenomenon grew during the twentieth century when not only did short forms become shorter but often voiced parodical, critical or even the destructuring of bourgeois drama and were especially exploited first by avant-garde movements and, later on, by the mid-century theatrical experimentalism of the Absurd and beyond. From then onwards, the production of short (and shorter) dramas has profitably spread, as proven by the establishment of seasons, festivals, and awards expressly devoted to this kind of theatre. The second issue of Skenè. Journal of Theatre and Drama Studies will be dedicated to short drama in the twentieth and early twenty-first century and particularly aims at analysing its main aesthetic prerogatives and specific potentialities with regard to dramatic writing and performative realization as well as to its impact on contemporary theatre receptive and organizing practices. The issue’s contributions will therefore investigate not only the theatrical movements and the single dramatists, whose production has been largely and sometimes even exclusively dedicated to short drama, but also the new models of organization and the dynamics of reception and social interaction that short drama has dealt with or has contributed to create.
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