Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Tell Me Again

Read this post by Jaime at "surplus," especially this paragraph:

I realized something about a month ago. I was sitting in a lovely off-Broadway theatre, watching lovely actors on a gorgeous set, hearing pretty words and watching the characters go through their personal strife. And it hit me: I am sick to death of plays. Granted, I thought this was a pretty bad one - though lots of smart folks and also a major critic at the paper of record thought it was totally awesome - but just plays in general. Blah blah blah blah blah. Middle-class white people talking about their problems, having babies and getting divorced and dying and falling in love and talking about it for two hours. (emphasis added)
Now tell me again why we shouldn't be working really hard to produce new plays by people with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Tell me again how sifting our playwrights through the same "elite" playwriting programs that are filled doesn't lead to the homogeneity that the phrase "write what you know" really fosters. Tell me again how the current system works so well because it puts individual "choice" at the forefront. Because I just don't see how the current system can stay healthy the way it is. Unless, of course, we keep doing the classics, which seems to be our favorite answer. Could we get some imagination going, PLEASE??? (h/t 99Seats)


Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist! said...

Rebecca Gilman comes to mind and by god, I f--king hate her plays. Mediocre, overrated, shitty playwright whose whiney, privileged plays me and many other of my POC (People of Color) friends can't relate to.

then some people have the nerve to tell me that white people can't relate to my plays because it's got South Asian, Muslim, punk rock, anarchistic characters!

Freeman said...

I don't think you need to put the word choice in quotation marks.

Replacing a system that is imperfect and relies on choice with a lottery that relies on even weighted chance is like replacing waging war with mass suicide. I just am completely unconvinced that it's an improvement on the current system. Different does not equal better.

I don't know anyone who is saying we shouldn't be looking for diversity. In fact, I think that's not even a remotely new thing to say, clamor for, or reach for. I'd also say that if you want to find diversity, you might find a WHOLE LOT of it in the New York, Chicago and Los Angeles scenes you treat like geographic landmines at times.

You're welcome to your apoplectic tone, but I think individual choice is a basic good, and I stand by it. Choice is fallible, and it will let you down. But at least someone's steering the ship.

Scott Walters said...

Choice is good, but it is limited by the frame of reference of the person doing the choosing. That's the point.

devilvet said...

What if we give the people what they want... i.e. have the lottery first but draw 3x the plays necessary and then survey the theatrical audience to pick the oned they want the organization to produce based on 100 word synopsis of each? Each company that received any sort of tax dollars would then have a play selection process that was partly lottery but also partly democratic. At least then if there wasnt enough diversity, we could blame the audience rather than the administration.

I dont know that I'm in favor of thi idea at all, but I'm trying use my imagination to expand on ideas here.

devilvet said...

So a five play season would have a roster of 15 plays from the lottery for the audience to select... also add 5 spots for 'none of the above'or 'pass' if the audience doesnt believe there are enough choices that serve its wants/needs

devilvet said...

If 'pass' gets 1 or more positions on the top five then, pull more scripts from the lottery and have run offs. for the sake of just being done with it, dont have 'pass' as an option in the run off. However if for over any 2 seasons yur audience says pass an aggregate of 4 or mor times... do what they do in football and fire the literary manager. If you go through 2 or more literary managers then fire the artistic director. if you go 2 or more artistic directors... replace any and all decision makers in the administrative staff.

Ian Thal said...

Actually, DIMA, having authored a play about a Jewish Anarchist, I would really like to see a play about a South Asian Muslim Anarchist a hell of a lot more than a play about middle class white people falling in love, making babies, and getting divorced, unless of course, they were also anarchists.

silent nic@knight said...

The demographic of an Off-Broadway audience consists mainly of middle class white people. So rightly or wrongly producers probably feel that plays about "middle-class white people talking about their problems" are what that audience wants to see. To the degree that producers (and by extension playwrights) give the white middle class audience the product it wants, is the same degree by which Off-Broadway remains a commercially viable enterprise.