Would you rather have the bulk of your play's action staged in the atrium or in the peristylium? That's not the question, actually.

The difference between a movie and a stage play is entrances and exits. In a screenplay, you don't have to bother with any of it: you simply introduce a new shot and go on with the story.

On the stage, you have two exits: stage-left and stage-right. Three, if you want to push it and make your play difficult to produce.

Now. There's a room (the living room of a house) with two exits: one on the left, the other on the right. The house is huge. The left-hand exit leads to the garden. The right-hand exit leads to a whole bunch of passageways, stairs, rooms, etc.

When a character exits stage-right, and another one comes in twenty seconds later, the audience MUST NOT get the impression that they just ran into each other. How would you accomplish that?

1 Answer 1


The obvious and explicit way would be to have another character ask, "Did you pass Bob on the way in?" and for the second character to say, "No".

Or the character coming in could say something that indicates that he has not seen the other person. This could be as simple as, "Hey, has anybody seen Bob today? I can't find him."

20 seconds is a pretty short period of time. Even if there were many alternative routes on the other side of the door, it would be plausible for someone going out to meet someone coming in in that time. If it was 20 minutes, we probably wouldn't even think of the possibility. Unless, I suppose, we were explicitly told that on the other side of the door there is one room with no other exits or some such.

So other than having someone actually say that they didn't meet, I don't know how you could make it clear. I suppose if the nature of the story is that if they had met, the person coming in would have said something, then the fact that he doesn't say something could make the point. Like if the point of the story is that Sally has been searching for Bob for the last ten years without success, then Bob walks out of the room and a few seconds later Sally walks in the room, and she says nothing about meeting Bob, we'd likely assume she didn't see him.

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    Can't speak for anyone else ofc, but I agree especially with the last part: while watching plays (and even older TV shows with a stage-like setup such as Fresh Prince) I assume they haven't met unless they mention they have or there's a touch of off-stage dialogue between the characters. I only comment because it seems like this is the natural assumption (but I have of course no proof)
    – Mac Cooper
    Nov 10, 2015 at 7:52

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