We had an event earlier this week around OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE, the new book by Todd London and Ben Pesner about “the life and times of the new American play.” It was attended by a lot of folks, artistic directors, managers, playwrights, and funders. I don’t usually talk about artistic matters, but this was really interesting. According to the authors there is a fundamental misunderstanding between playwrights and theatres about what the wants and needs are of each. Huh. Why? According to the authors it’s because we lie to each other. Huh. For example, the theatre says we really love your work but it’s not right for our audience. The playwright reasonably takes that to mean that the theatres number one concern is audience reaction to a play. Pesky audiences. I can’t presume to understand what that might mean but, according to the authors, when theatres are asked, audience reaction is most definitely not their top concern when considering a new play.
There was a discussion after the presentation of the findings of the book that I actually found a little disappointing; I guess I was hoping for some fireworks. Maybe it was hard for people to digest all of that information. Many playwrights spoke and many of them had very positive things to say about the work they were doing. Maybe it’s different in Chicago – maybe playwrights and theatres feel like they have excellent relationships.
I offered at the meeting that if people wanted to continue this conversation I would be happy to facilitate that. So, if you are interested, shoot me an email.