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What's in the name

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November 02, 2006


Joshua James


Thank you for this post.


I think there needs to be a distinction, in this argument, between the evils of development and the cowardice of theatres to produce daring new work. I don't think any dramaturg worth their salt intends to "[tie] up their talent in a queue of unproduced plays." Development is about making plays better, about enabling playwrights to fully realize their visions. It is not a bad thing. It's part of a troubled system, the system that brought us Losing Louie and dozens of safe, boring, bad shows just like it. But I don't think development is the problem.


The problem seems to lie in the disconnect, in most companies, between development and production. Scripts get reading after reading, maybe even a rehearsed workshop, but have literally no chance of making it onto the mainstage. The development department exists partly to inspire funders, and partly because development is in itself a worth and defensible process, but the development department and the mainstage apparatus are entirely different beasts.

One thing I'm curious about: how common is it that scripts get "tied up" by a development process? Have playwrights encountered this?

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