Over at Bitter Lemons, a powerful piece by dramaturg Dylan Southard, their newest contributor. It builds to a beauty of a final statement: "We can do these plays. We shouldn’t be casting them down into developmental hell. We should be pulling them out."
Dylan warns the reader that he is about to unleash the "Fury of the Dramaturg." I would call it common sense.
On the low-end of theatre production, resources can be so tight that any public performance is dear -- be it a workshop, a fundraiser, or Miss Julie set on skid row. Yet with that poverty comes incredible richness. Small companies have the freedom to rapidly prototype, to create shows that respond to a moment in time and a specific community. Those plays can then go on to new heights.
Look at Theatre Unleashed's production of The Spidey Project. What started out as a scrappy response to bloated Broadway excess is getting a proper West Coast debut with a budget most assuredly well north of the original production's $0 price tag. A rapidly prototyped production that ran for two performances for free in New York has found legs (and a six-week run and runaway ticket sales) in Los Angeles.
The lesson here? It doesn't take two years to create a killer show. It takes the nerve to try new things, trusting and working with your fellow artists (i.e. playwright), and above all not taking it all so damn seriously. To quote the great Peter Brook:
"... for by nature the popular theatre is anti-authoritarian, anti-traditional, anti-pomp, anti-pretence. This is the theatre of noise, and the theatre of noise is the theatre of applause."Make 'em roar, TU.