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November 04, 2006



I'm curious what your writer/producer friend thought of this. Maybe he's not unaware of the situation, but doesn't see a systemic problem? I'm not saying there isn't a systemic problem (though I go back to wondering if it isn't in how plays are developed, but in which plays are produced), but really I don't think all playwrights think that development = hell. The hypothetical PH situtation you described is hellish, and criminally dismissive of the playwright, but, though I might be naive and might work somewhere particularly wonderful (doubtful), I don't think it is (and hope it isn't) the norm.

David Cote

My friend has a well-paying day job and doesn't play the professional dramatist game in terms of chasing productions at nonprofit venues, but sure, he thought the situation I hypothetically described was very Hollywood-like. He founded and runs an Off-Off Broadway theater that is doing fairly well and has a loyal audience (which ain't huge, but there), so he already has a built-in D.I.Y. ethos. It's interesting. The gap between Off Broadway and Broadway is narrower than ever, but the gap between Off-Off fringey activities and the world of nonprofits seems wider than ever.

Malachy Walsh

It would be an exception, rather than the rule, for a play to get done without some kind of note - or set of notes - from someone. Very unusual.

And I think it's a bit of a distortion to say theatres get paid to not produce plays. They get money to develop work they don't have to produce.

That leads to a lot of abuses, certainly. And if theatres did have to produce pieces they developed, I'm sure they'd choose very different projects by very different writers to work on. But the way it's set up now also gives theatres a chance to express interest in writers that they may feel have value even if the theatre doesn't have a place for the piece in the season. (New Work NOW! has often put work onstage that was/is completely wrong for the Public, yet there it is, being given a kind of endorsement by that institution.)

A question that arises for me is whether or not it would be more beneficial to put more work up more quickly. More Summer Play Festival type of events where a lot is done quickly. It would give writers, directors, audiences and others can get a more serious sense of what's happening in a piece.

Someone once told me that Sam Shepard said theatre should be more like rock 'n roll - something a couple of people with instruments could do wherever they found space.

We've gotten quite far from that kind of energy. I'm not sure it's all development's fault.

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