Fire on the Horizon

Leave it to Robert Brustein to mix it up and take no prisoners in the ongoing new play development/prodution debate. This from the current edition of American Theatre:

It’s not that there are no playwrights in this country–I think there are more playwrights in this country of high quality than ever before in my memory. They just don’t have a place to have their plays produced. Broadway has turned away from them altogether, as has even the resident theatre movement, which is no longer supported by the National Endowment for the Arts or the Ford Foundation or the Rockefeller Foundation…. Therefore, [the resident theatres] have begun to turn themselves into commercial producing organizations. And they’re putting on things that have been successful elsewhere and ot taking chances on the new. As a result we have succeeded ourselves out of existence, I think.

Which is enough of a shot across the bow, but Brustein can’t help himeself; he goes on to say:

And if that playwright does write that play, he or she is told, “We’ll give you a reading, a workshop, another reading, another workshop.” They never get productions. Richard Nelson wrote a very inflammatory speech about this recently, in which he complained that the playwright is always being helped to write his play by dramaturgs and by artistic directors, but he or she is never allowed to put the play on.

Ahh. I can’t help it: I love the guy. Makes me feel better about the stack of rejections on my desk too.