An important part of a great evening out is great conversation. This post will be the first in an occasional series of posts intended to make it easier for you to pick discussion topics out of the art you see. Many of the entries in Just the Ticket: An Insider’s Guide to Great Evenings Out in Washington, DC include some discussion questions for over your after-show nightcap or in the weeks after seeing the show, but we want you to have the tools to make your own. After all, a reason we like seeing plays so much is that each play offers a rich batch of ideas and perspectives any one of which could keep you and friends talking and continuing to enjoy yourselves.
The first way in which plays are full of conversation topics is that they are full of characters. Each character is usually put into situations in which you get to learn something about how that character sees the world and understands what matters. Conflicts between how different characters make decisions usually drive the action of a play. The playwright is intentionally using these characters to show us the kinds of value conflicts that happen in daily life but in a concentrated form, so we can see them happen without the distraction of all the grocery lists and driving directions that come between the big moments in the real world.
Taking advantage of that, you can always ask a companion “Which character held your attention most, and why?” People may be most riveted by the character who is a lot like them, or the one who is the most different. By the character who reminds him or her of someone important from the past. By the character who had the wildest costume. Usually, though, if you give someone the space to really think about and answer that question, you’ll hear something about how that character’s values made your companion examine his or her own values; and those are the kinds of conversations over the last drinks of the evening during which you really get to know someone better. The kinds of conversations that lead to memories of a great evening out!
Please use a comment on this post to share some of your great questions.