Monday, June 8, 2009


If you're a playwright or care about the birth and life of new plays, you HAVE to read the recent posts at Parabasis. Check it out....


Here's some of the meat:


--Consider themselves one flop away from folding

The following statistics are self-reported, and are probably somewhat skewed due to the selection-bias of the survey (i.e. they only surveyed theaters that produced new plays):
-- New plays account for 45.6% of offerings on our stages
-- 23.8% are world premieres
-- Fewer than 2 shows a season are 2nd productions

--Prevalent emphasis on world premieres are helping to strangle the new play system

--1 in 5 theaters regularly seek new plays that have already premiered

--As a result: the writer/agent want to get as big a world premiere as possible if they want the play to have a future life. This drives them back into the big institutions that they find problematic in the first place

--Culturally specific theaters have to compete with large theaters for multi-cultural grants and frequently become "farm teams" for the artists who will be included in the "multi-cultural" slot at larger theaters

--Expectations have been downsized. Small spaces, small casts.

--How do plays move through theaters? How do good theaters shepherd this process?

--Lack of Artistic Director access is frequently discussed. It is playwrights' biggest perceived problem

--Pass-blocking of admin staff, particularly lit depts.

--Most ADs agree that access is the key... so... "how can writers + ADs build relationships?"

--How much do agents help? (this part is tricky, data-wise, i'm gonna try to get it right):
-62% of playwrights had at least 1 play produced from direct submission to theater.
-83% have had 0-1 produced from agent submission
-Only roughly 5 agents are well regarded

--55% of playwrights think formal difficulty is the thing that is most likely to sink their plays

--ADs, on the other hand, rank cost and production demands as highest factor

--"Everyone wants the same 10-20 playwrights, and those writers are backed up with commissions"

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