I’m not through Part One yet, but I really need to jot thoughts as I go or I’m just going to lose it all.
- AD’s honestly believe that there are no good plays anymore. Because of course Really Good Play means Tartuffe.It is really not clear to ADs at major shops who have been running Shakespeare, Moliere, Shakespeare, Chekov, O’Neill for a decade that reading a new unproduced play isn’t going to have the same effect on them, not because it isn’t good, but because:
A.) You’ve only been working with Hall of Fame scripts distilled by 500 years of production winnowing the field
B.) You’re older, more experienced, more broadly read and you’re not going to be as easily impressed as you were when you were 22.
Baseball metaphor: hitters will always tell you that Old Ace Pitcher was the fastest ever, much faster than Young Flamethrower. Because of course he was 19 and seeing Big League fastballs for the first time out of the hand of Old Ace Pitcher and seeing Young Flamethrower’s work after 20 years of seeing Big League fastballs.
To paraphrase Bill James: The real level of the Really Good Play is not Hamlet or a Doll’s House and never has been.
- The book’s opening paragraph’s outline the Utopia found by Chekhov, Brecht, O’Neil, Churchill, August Wilson, Odets and Shakespeare, and Moliere – all writers for the ages who were lovingly tended by theatre’s eager to receive their work…
Except of course that they were writing members of a group, not Monks on a retreat who returned from the mountain tops wreathed in glory to deliver the Next Work.No one is arguing that groups that develop a work begun by a singular voice can’t work… they’re arguing that they’re broke. Well, not arguing – stating. What they are also stating is that major nonprofits aren’t doing that. I think that’s a pretty unassailable position.
- Everyone wants a comfortable job at a comfortable salary at a nurturing artistic home. And a unicorn. Too bad.That aside, the burrowing of our writers from high school to undergrad to grad to laboratory to internship to retreat to incubator is naturally going to lead to disconnected abstract plays. They are disconnected from reality, living inside a bubble of craft, only talking to other theatremakers and primarily only other writers. To be crass? Inbreeding leads to retardation.(Preemptive rebuttal: the fact the YOU Intrepid Wordsmith haven’t Done That doesn’t invalidate my premise… you are not the entire world snowflake)
Live life in this world and you’ll be able to write about it.
My favorite current example of the real world leading to good craft is smaller by Malachy Walsh. His experiences inform the subject and round the characters but never supersede his craft in the creation.
More as I wade through the heartache.