MACBETH has come and gone and it was a very intense experience. We had 6 days to tackle Shakespeare. It was short, hard, and at times, brutal. We all strecthed ourselves farther then I would have thought and did some great, amazing work. Although we didn’t fully solve the play, there are few times that I have been more proud of a group of actors I have worked with…especially considering that we lost power before the final performance and were forced to do the first 30 minutes in emergency light…..but that is a story for another day…..
Now I move on to a week of work on a staged reading of The Empty Ocean, a new play by Anton Dudley set in a dystopian future where the world has over exhausted it’s fish population. I am excited to do a complete 180 and go from Shakespeare to work on a brand new piece for the stage.
I have worked on a majority of new plays in my short career. The bond that forms, when one is workshopping a new piece, between a playwrite and director. When those two beings are working in confluence, it is truly a thing of beauty. That being said, I feel like I have only worked on READINGS of plays. with very few actual productions coming from said readings. I talk to my friends and they feel the same way. How can these plays actually get full-blow productions instead of always languishing in development hell?
This is a hard prospect. Everyone wants to find the next Death of a Salesman, but no one wants to take a risk to get there, because what if they are wrong? How do we let these new plays and playwrites have a production? What we do is for an audience so shouldn’t we allow them the experience of getting a new play to opening night and letting them make the decision about if it will be a contempoary classic or not?
I think that the investment that Signature (NYC) and Arena Stage make in their playwrites is a great model. Promise them productions no matter what they write. Give them the option to work on what they are interested in. That is how they will do their best work.
We should also look at the grants that are given away to new play development. Perhaps we should ear mark a certain amount of money from these grants to defray production costs, rather then putting these funds towards endless amounts of readings and workshops. I really do honestly think that nothing serves a play better then getting it up on its feet in front of an audience. How else will we know what works and what does not?
If you love a play, give it a life.