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Apr 9, 2007


Interesting post from Isaac on class


I've been thinking about this a lot lately. As a
playwright, I am writing from a certain point of view
which is MY point of view. It comes from where I grew
up and how I grew up and the people I know and how I
see all those factors. I was raised Catholic. My
father's family was Polish Catholic. My mother's
family was all sorts of English, Dutch, Scottish but
basically the culture she came from was a Protestant
American culture, though she herself was not praticing

Both my parent were teachers who taught in public
schools, my mother high school math and my father 5th
and 7th grade--specializing in science. My father
also started a series of businesses while teaching
full time. He built picnic tables then he opened a
video store in the mid eighties, then he started
buying houses. Basically he's a workaholic. Both my
parents are now retired but he is still buying houses
and working on them and then trying to resell them.
And so through lots of hard work and smart investment
he is doing quite well financially right now, or at
least much better than a teacher is expected to be

So basically my point is that I grew up in a house
that was a hard working house and also not exactly
working class and not exactly not working class.
(I've spent many hours roofing). I went to a public
school and a public university. I grew up in a small
town in Connecticut, which is something that is hard
to explain unless you too grew up in a small town in
Connecticut. And I think a lot of my small town view
of the world remains as well as the idea that I have
to have a day job (not to mention the grad school debt
that I'm currently saddled with, which makes my day
job necessary.)

Based on the way my parents worked and worked, I am
likewise working a day job and doing my best to write
plays as my other job. It's what I'm expecting myself
to do and it's also incredibly tiring. And while I
know that I do tend to write more when I have a full
time job, I also have a lot less time to write.

I know I would be more focused on my playwriting if I
didn't have a 9-5 job. And I know that it would have
been helpful if I had gone to undergrad at Princeton
or Yale or somewhere that had had a theatre major--
course when I was applying to school I didn't know I
wanted to be a playwright. But if I had gone to an
Ivy league school I think I would have a clearer
picture of the wealthy people that make up New York
audiences. Six Degrees of Seperation is a fantastic
play but it's not a play I am equipped to write
because I am not of that world.

And so sometimes I wonder if the wealthy theatregoers
are interested in what I have to say. Is my point of
view something that would interest them? I am not
Jewish. I'm not writing about people living on the
Upper West side. I have a certain unique point of
view and some of that has to do with growing up where
and when and how I did.

Considering the price of theatre tickets, the off
broadway and broadway audiences are and have to be
wealthy these days.

At the same time, I want my plays to be produced in
small theatres throughout the country. I want my
plays to mean something to the actors in Michigan who
are holding down day jobs and then come to rehearse at

And I want to find a way to make a living writing.
Because I'm so very tired. Especially on a Monday.


DAM* Writer said...

Adam, read your post over at parabasis, too... and I have to say, I second your comment here and over there -- expecially your note about debates regarding theory.

I tend to stay away from them, a) because my educational background makes me ill-equipped to debate the subject(s), and b) I just don't have the time. In order to get anything written -- and to feel good about what I've written -- I need to focus what energies I have left, for myself and my own work, ON myself and my own work.

Without wanting to sound intentionally snarky, I just don't have the luxury or the time to worry about theory. In fact, lately, I've been tuning out more and more blogposts because they're just going off on debates that have very little meaning in my day-to-day life. Does that make me a reverse snob? Perhaps.

Adam Szymkowicz said...

I hear you. I also don't have the luxury or the time to watch anything on youtube. Of course that might be normal plain old snobiness.

J W said...

this makes me think of August Wilson. Working class African American playwright who proved that the African American working class steel-workers of Pittsburgh were worthy of art as well.

Isn't it about where is the story and where is the drama? And so much of writing is taking what might normally be overlooked and seeing with a lens that makes it exciting. I don't know this person, but sounds like they've written the manifesto for their future as a writer. Where the work is: reflecting and objectifying our experiences, clarifying their expression and assisting them in find their voice on stage.

I'm not John Guare either, most of us aren't. But we still have stories to tell, and people can't resist a good well-told story. It's true.

Adam Szymkowicz said...

Thanks, JJW. It is about the story.

Scott Walters said...

And aren't there enough people writing for the educated upper-middle class? What is almost entirely missing are playwrights who write (and wright) for the common man -- not only in content, but in form as well.

Adam Szymkowicz said...

Perhaps. But will they be able to afford the price of admission and willl they even know about the show to begin with?

Slay said...

I have responded to some of this right here.

Patrick Gabridge said...

Great post, Adam. I think about all this a lot. (Thanks for giving me something to blog about on mine--I'll link to your post for sure.) I think the economic issues around theatre definitely drive the material that's created, which ends up forming a self-perpetuating loop with the audience. It's tough to get material that appeals to a broader or different audience, if big theatres depend on work that will appeal to very narrow constituencies.

katrog said...

I am interested in your assumption that wealthy theatregoers are a homogeneous lot, only interested in what others of their ilk have to say. I think you would categorize me as one of your wealthy theatregoers--I can afford to pay for my own tickets, and I can also afford to donate to smaller theater companies and other arts organizations--and yet my background is much like yours. I come from a small New England city and would say my upbringing was somewhat working class and somewhat not working class. And yet through great good fortune, I am living quite differently today.

I detest talky, brittle, pretentious, overblown idea-plagued theater. I don't give a rat's ass about theory, either. Just because producers and artistic directors think they know what I want, they don't have a clue.


Adam Szymkowicz said...

Hi, Kathleen. thanks for your comment. I do feel like the majority of theatregoers in off broadway and broadway houses are not my peers in quite a few ways. First of all they are for the most part, very old. I'm guessing that's not you. Second of all I think they have a good amount of money and probably have had a good amount of money for a long time. However, I would welcome knowing that my assumptions are wrong. Do you feel as if you are of the same class as the rest of the audiences you sit by? Because when I go to the theatre especially Broadway, i often don't feel like I have a remotely similar background as the paying customers. Likewise, the people I usually see on the stage are from this same privileged class. I'm thinking Richard Greenberg, for example. Am I wrong? Am I overgeneralizing?