I read Wendy Wasserstein’s biography, it’s a pretty good read if you’re interested but one of the most minor things in the book really resonated with me. That is that Wendy wrote screenplays, none of which got produced and I am always hearing about screenplays that never get produced and how people are actually commissioned to write things for TV and film that never get produced and I know people write a lot of plays that never get produced but the difference is nobody pays them to do it. Playwrights always write on spec.
Then I got into a conversation about R&D and investment and capitalization in the arts and the idea that in other industries, in “for profit” industries – loads of people are paid to fail. How can we capitalize our industry so that we can pay to fail – I think there would be a lot more good plays in the world if we could pay for a lot more bad plays to be written (and read and workshopped and even produced). Does that make sense? Some of us can capitalize our organizations as a guard against failure, which gives us the ability to take risks. Some of us produce our work on as low a budget as possible so we can take those same risks. What’s the answer? As usual I only have questions. I understand that it’s the market – our industry doesn’t produce the kinds of profits that make it sensible to capitalize risk taking. Could we create something that invites investors at a different level – not when the plays are written and someone thinks they have potential but before they are written?