Friday, April 04, 2008

Boston Theatre - Breaking Ground

Bill Marx interviews the Huntington Theatre Company's Literary Director Illana Brownstein.

Here is a little of Brownstein on how development programs may not be for every play at all times:

And ultimately, while theatres with poor development programs are half the problem, the other half are the playwrights who aren’t choosy enough about where and how they develop their work. It’s always flattering to have a theatre call you up as a writer and say, “we’d like to read your play, what do you think?” It’s seductive. But the writer is the first and last line of defense when it comes to his or her script. He or she has to be able to make decisions about what’s best for the script at that moment, and perhaps that play doesn’t
need another reading. Is it too many cooks in the kitchen? And at a certain point, a reading is no longer useful - the writer needs to see the play in production.

Of course, it’s also up to the theatres to be honest about what the
purpose of a reading might be. Is it secretly an audition for a season slot? Is it a way to justify funds given by a foundation or private donor? Or is it a way for the theatre to initiate a relationship which may pay off down the road, even though this particular play may not be the one that lights their fire?

There perhaps needs to be more transparency on both sides. One of
things I make sure to do at the Huntington is to ask one very important question of the writers we court for Breaking Ground: do you need to hear a reading of this play right now?

Emphasis mine. Ms. Brownstein couldn't be more right there and she goes on to say that sometimes plays are at a stage where the playwright needs a production. Although, earlier in the article, she does admit that there are many ancillary benefits to a reading other than to just hear the play.

It is a good interview about how a development program at a major regional theatre works.

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