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Mar 6, 2009

Dentyne and Theatre

This is my response to the Dentyne people who want me to promote their 10 min play contest: If you want to actually help playwrights and theatre, why not commission new full length works for the stage or give cash awards to playwrights? Why do we need another 10 min contest? It's pretend help, not real help. There are people who are serious about theatre who don't have enough money to make theatre and don't have enough money to live. Why aren't you helping them instead of asking people across the country to write plays for free to promote your gum? Why not promote your gum by actually supporting the arts instead of having actors read 10 minutes of work one night at an event? Put some actual money into the arts to show that Dentyne does care about the power of live theatre to show the complexities of relationships?


tdawg said...

Good for you. Did you at least score any gum?

MattJ said...

See, i dont get why theatre bloggers are so pissed about this. It's better than nothing right?? I think it's cool that they want to use theatre as a medium for those promotional concerns. Why the hell not?? We all get so caught up in this us vs. them... art vs. capitalism thing that we don't realize that we ostracize ourselves just as much as culture ostracizes us.

Adam said...

I'm not sure it's better than nothing. I guess what I'm upset about is that it's not a real opportunity for people who are actually serious about playwriting. Even if I did post opportunities on my blog, this is not one I would post. And I'm annoyed at being asked to do so.

I'm annoyed too because they can point to this and say look we are supporting art when really they are just doing a promotion.

Is it helpful to have a bunch of people write plays who have never before? Maybe so, maybe not. But I find the whole contest thing obnoxious and futile. yes someone will win and that person who up until then had never made any money playwriting will think this is what theatre is because an actual theatre is involved and actual actors are doing it and they are getting money. But it's just a stunt.

I can hope that it will get more people excited about theatre than bitter about it, but I think it will go the other way.

Jason Grote said...

I'm pissed about it because I feel like every available surface in our world is being used to sell stuff. And it's not even interesting stuff. I wouldn't be offended at all if it was a cheesy commercial thing (whether of the Disney or off-off Broadway variety), like if a gum company produced their own 10-minute play festival. But the fact that MTC -- a nonprofit which (according to the tax code at least) is supposed to serve the public interest -- is partnering with them makes me a little nauseous.

No matter how you slice it, any 10-minute play written for this is an ad. And someone could argue that the playwright doesn't have to mention the product or whatnot, but that doesn't make it any less of an ad -- the product isn't really mentioned in the actual ad campaign, either. In fact, many ad campaigns don't show or mention the products they're advertising. I have the same problem with "underwriting" on public radio. I can let go of my problems with consumerism if consumerism can be prevented from invading every single aspect of my life.

cgeye said...

It's more what the contest prohibits that bothers me. From the website:

Entries must not contain defamatory words/statements (including words or symbols that are widely considered offensive to individuals of a certain race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic group); they must not include threats to any person, place, business, or group; they must not disparage persons or organizations associated with the Sponsor or contain false or disparaging information about Sponsor or its products; they must not reference any celebrity or any other real person, and they must not reference any real brands or companies or other third party materials; they must not invade privacy or other rights of any person, firm, entity, and they must not in any other way contain material that is unlawful, in violation of or contrary to any applicable federal, state, or local laws and regulations the laws or regulations in any state.

Entries must not contain material that promotes bigotry, racism, hatred or harm against any group or individual or promotes discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age. Entries may not contain material that is inappropriate, including, without limitation, material that is indecent, pornographic, profane, obscene, hateful, tortious, slanderous, libelous, violent, or that contains nudity, illegal activity, drug or weapon use, dangerous activities, or use of alcohol or tobacco.

So characters can't drink or smoke, which leaves out scenes in bars or chillin' at home. Hateful or violent actions can't be shown, so potential for gripping conflict is reduced. Why didn't they position this as a soap-opera plot contest? At least scenes involving harmless emotions would be justified there.