A Conversation With Playwright David Ives, the Mind Behind All in the Timing

By Harry Haun
20 Jan 2013

All in the Timing's Liv Rooth
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Was the difficult thing about getting All in the Timing done because it was an anthology?
Not only was it an anthology, it was one-act plays. Everybody said no one wanted to see an evening of one-act plays.

God, it's sure a lost art, isn't it?
It is a lost art because there's not much of a place to do it. That's why the Punch Line was so great. It was a great time for one-acts. I actually think the one-act play is a particularly rich medium for theatre because you don't have to fill 90 minutes or two hours. You can fundamentally do whatever you want, so the range of things that happen is much wider than it is in conventional two-hour plays. You don't have to adhere to reality quite so much. It almost encourages poetry in a certain way because one-act plays are so often made of one image or one particular happening that explodes for ten minutes, then stops. The intensity is all the greater because it's so short. It challenges a playwright's talent for compression, for making every word count, which is something I really like.

Two things from that show have stayed with me all these years. The first, from Variations on the Death of Trotsky, was the image of Trotsky going about his business, oblivious to the fact he has a mountain-climber's ax in his head.
Don't all of us have an ax in our head, and aren't we oblivious to it?

The other thing was Sure Thing. How many times has that happened? You're on a date, and you say the wrong thing, and you want a retake. In your play, a bell rings and the scene starts again. It's a totally inspired idea. I don't know why someone didn't do that before. It was always there. You just picked it up and ran with it.
There I was, the first ever.

I do know your style and interest in theatre has changed in terms of what you're writing now. It truly has matured. You could have gone through life Mr. Smart-Ass.
Yes. I got tired of having the word "clever" attached to my name. I actually dislike clever playwrights, so I didn't want to be one of those. Clever is interesting for a minute and then not, so I just thought of other things I wanted to explore. I felt like, "Yes. I could keep on writing smart-ass, one-act plays," but there were other things to be plumbed.