The term “straight play” is used to distinguish between musical and non-musical theatrical productions. A straight play is a piece of theater that is not a musical and tells the story entirely through the spoken word. Instead of song and dance, this type of play uses spoken dialogue to move the story forward. Both of these art forms are considered plays, but they are typically presented in very different styles. In a straight play, the drama or comedy is often told through dialogue between characters, whereas in a musical, there may be no dialogue at all.
Straight plays come in a variety of lengths, usually two or three acts, but they can also be one-act plays. The action in a full-length play is divided into acts, and there may be an intermission. A one-act play is much shorter than a full-length play and is frequently performed as part of a festival or night of short plays. Mini plays, which can be as short as five or ten minutes, also fall into this category.
This type of play can be classified as either a comedy or a drama, but there are also variations, such as comedic dramas. A comedy usually tells a lighthearted story, whereas a drama usually deals with a more serious subject. Although a playwright may combine the two genres to create a theater piece that elicits strong emotions from the audience while also eliciting waves of laughter. There are also straight plays that are considered experimental. To tell the story, they may use unusual language, characters, or special effects.
Straight plays include Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire,” Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” and Sam Shepard’s “A Lie of the Mind.” Straight plays, especially on Broadway, can be more difficult to produce because they are more difficult to market to an audience. Musicals are more profitable at the box office because theatergoers often gravitate towards pure entertainment. Although music may be present in a straight play, it serves more as a device for creating mood or atmosphere than as a means of telling the story. Instead of being entertaining for a few hours, this type of play frequently challenges audiences and requires more listening and thinking.