Wednesday, January 28, 2009

New York, New York?

Adam Szymkowicz posted some really good "Advice to Playwrights Starting Out" on his blog a few days ago. But, within the post, some readers, (mostly from Chicago,) found the following section was giving them pause:

You need to know what other people are doing and you need to find your influences that you will eventually turn away from and the things you don’t like which will also define how you write. If you live in New York, you’ll have more chances to see plays than anywhere else. So if you can, live in New York at least for a while. You can usher to see plays for free or get discounts from TDF and other sources.

Initially, I was nodding my head to that statement. But then I have to ask: You may have more opportunity, but how much opportunity do you really need?

I don't mean to be a smart ass, but when I really think about it, I am not sure that Boston, while certainly a far cry from the surfeit of options in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, doesn't offer quite enough.

In the last month, just since January 1st, Boston playwrights will have had the opportunity to see:

The Cherry Orchard
The Seagull
Uncle Vanya
The Duchess of Malfi
A View of the Harbor - A New Play by Richard Dresser
The Year of Magical Thinking
Daughter of Venus by Howard Zinn
The New Century by Paul Rudnick
No Exit
Crying Deer - A Collaborative Production
Awake and Sing
ARTiculations - A Spoken Word Performance Piece
The Corn is Green

And those are just some of the professional productions. (It is short, I know, on new plays, but normally we have a bigger mix of those.)

My larger point is that we are at Day 29 of January and the abridged list above is 14 productions long. Those productions alone almost cover half of the days in the month. I haven't seen all of them, and I am fairly avid playgoer (about 100 or more a year on average.) And, best of all, you can see many of them at very good discounts, or even free, if you do the research.

By the way, I far from proclaiming that we are in some type of Golden Age, but I think it helpful to look at things this way. Or maybe I am just rationalizing?

While I was thinking about this, I also happened to see that Cary Tennis, a columnist at Salon dispenses the following advice to somebody seeking to pursue a career in acting:

You have to act. You have to make a living. Those two things are both true. But they are not mutually exclusive. Nor do they define each other. You do not have to make a living at acting. Nor do you have to stop acting to make a living. You just have to find room for both in your life.

Where can you most likely achieve both? New York. New York offers the most possibilities, but it may also offer the most hardships. If the preponderance of factors indicates that you must stay where you are, then you can stay where you are and continue acting and also make a living. That is for you to sort out.


1 comment:

Adam said...

thanks for the mention. I'm in New York for about 3 weeks and there are a bunch of new plays that I am dying to see but I don't have time to see more than one or two.

Plays that I want to see while I'm in town: Shipwrecked, an Entertainment, Becky Shaw, Sixty Miles To Silver Lake, The Third Story, The Shipment, The Amish Project, The American Plan, You're Welcome America, That Pretty Pretty; or, The Rape Play. There are probably a couple more too. Those are just the ones that are playing right now. That's 9. Easily at any given time in new york there are at least 5 plays I'm desperate to see. Maybe you want to see different ones. (take a look at the listings on time out or ny times.)

There are new playwrights here that I follow and i don't know if there is anywhere else that I could see as many of their new plays in a single season. Up there, we got new plays by Sheila Callaghan, Gina Gionfriddo, Richard Greenberg, Young Jean Lee, Donald Marguelis, Dan LeFranc, etc. What other city can boast that right now?

Which is not to say Boston isn't cool. I love Boston, and that's a lot of plays you got going on. But for new plays, you just can't beat New York.