Wednesday, October 04, 2006

"New" Versus "Current"

On a Google Playwriting Group I belong to there is discussion going on about defining what, exactly, are new works.

People may say that it is being too picky, but I think it is important to try and cut through the marketing flab that even theatres have to engage in in order to compete in the marketplace.

Will Stackman has introduced a possible classification system, and I have kind of fleshed them out below:

New: A new play is a play that is receiving a world premiere production. It may have received readings, or a staged reading before, but this is its first actual full production with a substantial run.

Current: Regional Premieres would be the prime example of this type of play. For instance, The Pillowman and Thom Pain, both playing regionally here in Boston are current plays. They have premiered within the last few years elsewhere and played in many different cities and garnered reviews and hence increasing the marketing power behind them.

Category X: (I haven't figured out a name for these types of productions yet.) Basically these are the types of regional productions that we get with Yale Rep's Eurydice, (which I reviewed below,) or bobraushenbergamerica, currently at the American Repertory Theatre. These are productions that make the regional circuit, (and perhaps even to off broadway,) but basically with the same players in place. The set design, sound design, director, and a couple of actors are usually the same.

The Eurydice currently playing at Yale Rep, is basically the same Eurydice that was done at Berkeley Repertory Theatre before, and bobrauschenbergamerica has played at Humana, BAM, etc.

In the comments of a post on Mr. Excitement, Isaac Butler of Parabasis points out that it is a little misleading to call Eurydice a New Play, because, as he says, "Ruhl wrote it in grad school, and it has been produced in many different places. The Yale Rep production is a re-mounting of the Berkeley Rep production, with a few cast changes, but the same design and central actor (Maria Dizzia). "

1 comment:

Mark said...

I very much get the need for these types of distinctions. The difference does come with a play like Eurydice, which a James Bundy can agree to produce (this was a programmed co-production with Berkeley Rep, yes?) without the play having yet become part of a "current" canon - it's very different from regional stagings of Pillowman, etc, because of the presence of the original creatives.

I'm not saying that any play that hasn't played New York is still "new"--on the contrary, I think plays that have had notable regional productions and then are mounted in New York with different creatives are "current" plays (Greenberg's The Violet Hour and Ruhl's The Clean House are a few recent examples).

That third category is dicey and I don't have any concrete thoughts--except we all get what is different about Bundy programming Eurydice and other regionals heading into their season with Times-approved seasons full of Thom Pain and I Am My Own Wife.