Theatre Bay Area Chatterbox

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

OF: 8

Q&A continued

[A comment about the fact that we're talking from a condition of scarcity. Todd says that the scarcity is coming out of years of abundance. Now people are feeling a pinch.]

"Can you talk more about the shrinking of venues for new work versus the importance playwrights place on small theatres."
A: Playwrights talk about small theatres that have impassioned leaders. Playwrights value these companies. Playwrights who are trying to make a living are in the position that they have to work against their interests of leaving these theatres behind. Also, it takes so long for a play to be produced in larger theatre that often the moment is gone. And yet ADs tell them they aren't writing for today's issues. But how can a playwright cast their lot with a smaller theatre that may close, that doesn't pay them? It's very complicated. Maybe partnerships across size will work.
[Blogger note: this is a very nuanced subject. Please listen to audio for full answer as I can't capture every word here, so full meaning may not come through.]

"Did you get a sense of why funders and everyone else cares about world premieres?"
A: Institutional ego, the fetishizing of the new. Being part of the creation of art. Perception that media cares. If you do a production of a new play and it's not successful, you can tell your board that it's because it was a new play. You can't cover up an unsuccessful production of an established play (internal defense mechanism).
Audience member noted that theatres like world premieres because they get a percentage of money/rights from future productions. Panel noted that many theatres stopped doing this. [Convo continues, lively audience convo on subrights, listen to audio.]

More coming....

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