While I’ve got Mamet’s book on my desk, here’s a couple of nice quotes, both of which I claim apply to all writing as much as theatre:
(p154) The mystery in drama is time: how to use time, how to exploit the human perception of time and its ordering into cause and effect. The rejection of this intolerable burden, our human speciality, is the goal of the religious mystic, the yogi, the lover, and the drug addict – to live in a world without time, to achieve unbeing… The examination of this urge and avowal and the confession of its tragic impossibility is the subject of all drama.
(To my ear at least, it’s unclear whether “our human speciality” is the burden of time or its rejection; but honestly, if you’re out to achieve unbeing, it hardly matters.)
Then, quoting Huizinga’s Homo Ludens:
(Epigraph) The arena, the card-table, the magic circle, the temple, the stage, the screen, the tennis court, the court of justice, etc, are all in form and function play-grounds, ie forbidden spots, isolated, hedged round, hallowed, within which special rules obtain. All are temporary worlds within the ordinary world, dedicated to the performance of an act apart.