Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Ken points us to this post by Marsha Norman An anonymous comment there struck me: I’m a playwright who has recently had a number of high profile productions. I’m considered a reasonably “hot” “emerging” talent. One play of mine was savaged by a reviewer in this this very paper just a few months ago. Not to be grousy or precious but I have in fact sacrificed an enormous lot for the American Theatre. I have virtually no security — financial or otherwise. I don’t have a permanent home. I live like a monk, basically. I endure routine humiliations in the development circuit, by Artistic Directors who foist lots of bad ideas on me - the list is pretty endless. So to finally get to the point where i actually GET a production — in a country that has virtually no support for the arts and a pretty paltry theatre culture overall — and then be flicked off like a bug by the only paper with “power” was enough to send me packing to L.A. — where critics actually have relatively little power, and you can make more than three thousand dollars per production (!). The critic may not be able to keep Journey’s End open, but he can sure disrupt the careers of the best and brightest talents out there: Itamar Moses, Rinne Groff, Anne Washburn, Francine Volpe, Lucy Thurber, Ann Marie Healy, Jason Grote, Jordan Harrison…and the list goes on and on. In another era or country these people would be the future of theatre — but we may never get to see their best works, because they’ll all be writing for movies and television. The system is broken and it is very sad. — Posted by X I can't help but agree. These people (and more) are the future of theater. And theater is a place where there is no longer even the hint of a living and where if you do finally get a play up, you are most likely going to be torn down in the paper of note. I have been very lucky in the reviews I have received, but I have not had a high profile production yet. I am hungry for such a production, but at the same time I'm dreading what I've seen happen over and over to playwrights, especially young playwrights. This is not something new. I've heard it said over and over. Playwright X could be almost anyone. And it is enough to cause you to pack it up and head to LA where it might be possible to feed and clothe yourself, maybe buy a house one day, have some money saved so you don't have to hustle forever.