Theatre Bay Area Chatterbox

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

OF: 5

More findings:
Emphasis on world premieres: a third of theatres' seasons are reportedly world premieres.
Fewer than 2 of these new works (less than 1 per season) are second productions.
Half of theatres seldom request a script that has already had a world premiere.
Second productions are greatly valued by playwrights: income stream but more, playwrights rarely feel that their plays are done after world premiere.(Can't learn and apply to rewrites.)
Playwrights withhold their plays from small theatres (which helps them develop the play, the theatres they care about) because they know a world premiere at a bigger theatre helps the play and their career more. (One reports withholding her own play from her own theatre.)
Managing the one shot stratifies theatres.
AD: "Everyone wants the same 10 playwrights."
Why?: Sincere belief in vision of writer; access to other important writers; generate press; institutional ego; group think of what's good.

Downsizing of American play:
ADs believe that smaller venues are better venues for new work, so they build smaller spaces for new work, "to sustain new work".
Cast size. ADs wonder why playwrights write small plays (ambition) and playwrights wonder if they can add fifth character and still get produced.

Dwindling audience:
We're losing audiences. They are dying, growing more conservative, younger & more diverse audiences are not being cultivated.
Playwrights believe theatres don't know how to develop nontraditional theatre audiences. they feel they don't market individual plays, but brand or whole season. Rely too much on subscriptions.
Theatres: playwrights write for a small group of their friends, they don't write for broad audiences.
[Reference NEA reports on audience falling for non-musical plays.]
Agree on: the current system of new play development doesn't allow playwrights to get to know audiences over time. How do you get to know a community if you don't get multiple productions there?

Under all of these findings in fear: The theatre has lost its impact; that it's moved to the margins; it's been supplanted by other media that handles conversation better. Where do we fit as theatre people in this world today?

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