Tony asks some questions about criteria when it comes to the work one produces for the stage. He also asks how your reading list has changed from college...
What am I on the hunt for...?
In the majority, the past decade has been one of self production for me. Leaving a small city in Northern Florida for NYC in the late 90s, I pretty much realized that I was probably going to have to be a playwright if I was going to have even a small shot of contentment within the medium I had chosen. Most of the heroes, I had acquired a a Florida College were already well produced in NYC.
Some of the heroes from my college reading list?
Maria Irene Fornes
Susan Lori Parks
These were often folks who were mostly living breathing and a few of them sometimes even approachable in NYC in the late 90s. They weren't the only vital playwrights, but they were the ones I had read, and the ones I would have probably been heavily producing were I to have remained a Floridian.
Others on that College reading list would include
Sam Beckett, August Strindberg, FT Marinetti along with various Italian Futurists, Bertolt Brecht, the majority of Absurdism, Len Jenkins, Karen Finley, Ellen Blumenthal's book on Julie Taymor (which I mediated on), anything to do with the Bread and Puppet Theatre, any writing about Wooster Group or Mabou Mines, any old 70's issues of TDR (Richard Schenchner period...I think it was...I'll have to look it up later or count on a reader to correct the record), Ibsen (but I was only into a few like Brand, Peer Gynt, and Master Builder).
Typical sorts of stuff you come into at college. New York changed alot of that, but probably in a way that doesn't translate to a college student about to graduate today. This was back when your Grandmother definitely didn't know what the internet was. This was back in the day when independent record stores and used books stores actually had real cache. There were film noirs and classic horror and anime that most the time you actually had to pick up and go to NYC if you wanted to peruse a shelf of that stuff. It was a different time. Nowadays the stuff I had to cross the continent to experience is mostly a few key strokes away. In a relative sense... mind blogging.
But back to what my current reading list is... actually very very few playwrights on the list. If I'm going to read nowadays if is usually not a play... rather it is a novel or non fiction or a graphic novel...but plays I have read lately (the past 2 or 3 years) that I would like to see produced and in a parallel universe maybe even direct?
I love Nilo Cruz. I am intrigued and challenged by Jose Rivera. 3 years ago I would have loved to do a Sarah Kane play (now the thrill is gone). I still love and would never past up the opportunity to work on many (not all but many) of Maria Irene Fornes' plays...she is so known yet so often unproduced (apologies to Sean Graney who did what I hear was an excellent Mud before I got back into Chicago from ATL). I love Adam Rapp (I've been told to frequently this is because I am a white male to which I can only shrug my shoulders).
The stuff I want to see more of though is the unpublished or at the very least self-published stuff. Individuals struggling to bring their own voices to life is the thing that I think is exciting. Smaller scripts that allow shorter rehearsal periods and shorter runs. I want to see people take risks as writers, intelligent calculated risks. I want to see people take literature classic literature even classic poetry and infuse it with action. I want people to tell stories about folks who are in danger, who have something precious at stake that relates to life changing events in the protagonists' existence. I want shorter runs done for less money by true enthusiasts who understand that a strong artistic economic model is worthy, but is not the sole ambition of expression and therefore not the lynch pin to performative demise. Extremes of a Grecian/Roman proportion
I want to see someone adapt Chester Himes on stage. I want to see Harry Crews adapted for the stage. I want cleverly constructed puppets and dark themes. I want to see the struggle between good and evil (even as the notions are challenged and pulled apart via the narrative) done in mythic or hell even psuedo mythic pomp. I want to see Jekyll turn into Hyde right before me. I want villians that make me sincerely hiss and bark uncontrollably. I want children to hold their breath.
that was fun.
Maybe I should do something about it...all these things I want.