Harold Pinter introduced the pause. That little stage direction changed theatre. It reminded us that some of the best tension is in silence, and that we must consider timing a significant part of the process.
So, that pause appeared in the 60s. What is today's equivalent?
No need to look any further than Suzan-Lori Parks. She took that pause, and then gave it a softer name: (rest). This name adds a musicality to the tension. Suddenly, playwriting is more akin to composing than literature.
She also surprised people with scene 19 in her play Venus. No dialogue, just a repetition of two characters' names.
She calls this a spell. I think that's a beautiful description.
This is where we are in theatre; it's the point where we must decide the next step. Our imaginations were stolen by film. It said forget about your poetry, and let's just tell a real story.
That's fine for a film where reality is captured and preserved. But theatre must leave a residue on the imaginations of its audiences. We never present a complete world to an audience. It's the opposite. We leave holes and create something spiritual.
See, the religious believe in God despite there being holes in his existence. I believe in Suzan-Lori Parks' scene 19. To me, it is beautiful.
Put holes in your script. Don't define everything. That's how you get magic.