Friday, January 04, 2008

Scott Walters Crunches the Numbers

Look at that carefully: 55.5% of the American premieres during the 2006-2007 season were produced in theatres with the smallest budgets. In fact, a single Category Six theatre produced nearly as many American premieres all of the theatres in Categories 1 through 5 combined: The Actors Theatre of Louisville (10 productions). Without the Actors Theatre of Louisville's commitment to the American playwright, there would have been a anemic 17 world premiere productions of American plays on LORT stages.

Scott has done an excellent job crunching the numbers, but there is another step that needs to be looked at. How many 2nd or third productions of new American plays were done at these theaters? In other words, there might be a regional theater that did not produce a World Premiere of an American play, but that theater may have produced two or three relatively new American plays. (For instance, new plays by established or emerging playwrights that were premiered by another Lort house a season before or so.) Not that this would take away from his point, but 2nd or 3rd productions can support playwrights as much a world premiere does.


Scott Walters said...

Of course you're right, and the data you are asking for would take a great deal more time to uncover. That said, I am skeptical that the results would be any more positive. Sure, regional theatres regularly pick up some of the latest NYC hits -- Rabbit Hole, Doubt, The Clean House -- and that brings income to those playwrights, and that's great. But that isn't developing a playwright, that is piling on the bandwagon once the coast is clear. Margo Jones discovered and nurtured Tennessee Williams BEFORE "The Glass Menagerie," and Zelda Fichlander developed Howard Sackler BEFORE "The Great White Hope." Lloyd Richards supported August Wilson BEFORE he won the Pulitzer. Those are people with an understanding of what it is to serve the American theatre, it seems to me.

Art said...

Actually, I was thinking of some of the more regional discoveries, more along the lines of South Coast Rep, or, in fact, Actors Louisville.

Plays like Memory House or Jenny Chow making the rounds at some of the regionals.

I do think you are right in the end though. I am not sure these findings would mitigate the essential point.