Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Permanent Ink List 2012

"Crisis on the desktop" Attribution Some rights reserved by Alan Cleaver
Last year I ran a poll and you, the reader, voted for your favorite original plays of 2011.  We'll be doing that again shortly (once I figure out some sort of a failsafe to prevent people from gaming the poll.  Apparently the honor system is not enough.  Eh ... theater people. O_o)

BUT FIRST!  Let's review the reason why we do this, shall we?

I was inspired by an article Howard Sherman wrote at HowlRound back in November of last year:

I wonder whether the not-for-profit theater is guilty of what we accuse “popular culture” of doing, that is to say, constantly embracing the new and abandoning anything that can be accused of being “so five minutes ago” (as is that particular phrase). Do we lionize only the true hits and consign the vast body of literature engendered by and created for our stages to the dustbin of history? Yes, you can browse for them at the Drama Book Shop in New York or the Samuel French shop in Los Angeles, but beyond that, they require archeological hunts, facilitated by sites both commercial (Amazon) and altruistic (the dizzyingly thorough Doollee.com). But how many never even saw publication, relegating them to permanent anonymity?

One of the most depressing things about reviewing shows is seeing decades-old posters for "The New Play By ..." prefaced by some title I've never heard of and followed by some name I maybe recognize as a current board member for the theatre company.  These posters may be found in just about every lobby of every theatre company in town.  Seriously, go look.  It's like we produce these things, hang the poster on the wall like a hunting trophy, and promptly forget them.

And I get it.  Theater is a constantly evolving, immediate artform.  Yet we think nothing of producing stale, 400 year old plays by some English playwright whose name escapes me.  Why not give legs to a year-old play that perhaps has more relevance for today's non-doublet-wearing crowd?

The point of the Permanent Ink List is to say THESE PLAYS ARE GOOD AND DESERVE FURTHER PRODUCTION.  Artistic Directors and dramaturgs in far-flung burgs, we're making your work easier here at Mad Theatrics.  Simply take the list of five plays, contact the playwrights, arrange for production, and you have your next season all picked out.  Boom!  Done!  Nailed it.

Keep your eyes peeled, new play fans.  We'll be posting the 2012 poll in a couple of weeks.

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