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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fatigue or Addiction

Patrick Gabridge
Go read Boston playwright Patrick Gabridge's latest post on his The Writing Life x 3 blog.   He's done research on new play productions in Boston, and it's worth a read.  BPT skews the data!  He writes a good blog, and it's worth following. 

Working at BPT where every weekend is jam-packed with some new play something,  I've maybe become too acclimated to the new.  I used to describe new plays as the albino alligators of the theatre world. Beautiful or ugly, they are a rare find and worth lining up for.   Lately I've been thinking of new play fatigue, something I have to contend with when I have my marketing hat on.  New plays take more energy from the audience, don't they? 

I think of myself going to the theatre; sometimes I really want to see how THAT company does THAT show.  Every patron walks in with a choice of how critical to be, and what to be critical about.  A new play begs to be criticized along a whole new set of criteria:  the choices the playwright made, the truth inherent in the dialogue, what the actors are doing with the new material, how the director helped or hindered the playwright's strengths and weaknesses.  This extra weight on the audience can even extend to whether the marketing copy representing the play they are seeing is accurate.  That's a lot of critical attention for a night out. 

All of that takes extra effort, and I know it wears me out.  How many times a season can you take on that challenge? 

Still, new play theatre going can be addictive.  The magic of your first theatre experience (for me it was Peter Pan puppets in the elementary school gymnasium) can be recreated only when you don't have a clue of what you'll see when the lights go up.

New plays: do you get the fatigue or the addiction?  (I hope you're addicted.  We're opening Leslie Harrell Dillen's brand new Two Wives in India tonight!) 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the mention, Jake. Maybe it's because I'm a playwright, but I'm addicted to new plays. Also, maybe because I'm a writer, I don't approach established work that differently--I'm always trying to figure out where the writer did something cool or else took a wrong turn, even if that writer is Arthur Miller or William Inge.

    I think theatres who want to promote new work and unheralded writers really need to take the opportunity to work with their audiences to help them get to know local writers over time. That relationship would greatly enhance the playgoing experience, just like I love seeing Will Lyman or Karen MacDonald in a show, or seeing how Cristina Todesco solves a design challenge, or how Bevin O'Gara directs a play.