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The one-act play structure concentrates the action and thus the theme, into an uncomplicated story, almost an anecdote rather than a narrative. By limiting the character developments of the other people in the story, notably the sisters, the author can concentrate on the “character” of the Aran Isles themselves, and dramatize the repetitions in the plot elements (losses at sea of family members). What is dramatized in a one-act play is a brief but condensed vision into a universal truth, while a longer play, say the works of Ibsen, relates a specific example of several general truths. The three-act play structure, let us say as delineated by Eugene Scribe, breaks a play’s development into rising action, first complication, denouement, etc., while a one act play’s structure is a thrust in one direction, reaching its climactic image with little “structure” other than the inevitability of the forces set in motion by, here, the natural laws of the sea.
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