Much is made in Outrageous Fortune about the disconnect between playwrights and artistic directors, as we've seen. And there's a plea within the book for authenticity in conversation, particularly around rejection. But there's less discussion of where this disconnect comes from, although the book hints around it from time to time. While playwrights are not blameless in this equation, it's worth saying that much of this disconnect originates with the reality that theaters (and particularly artistic directors) are not playing it straight.
I'll give one example. Playwrights think "expectations about audience reception and interest" are the chief obstacles to production of their plays. Artistic directors, on the other hand, rank this in the middle, and rank "expectation of response from critics" dead last. Instead, they say that "cast size or composition for an individual play," is the most likely reason.
First off, it's worth pausing to look at how slippery cast size or composition is. "Or composition". Think, for just one moment, about what that means, about all the issues with regard to diversity on our stages are encapsulated in "or composition". "Or Composition" means everything from how are we going to get an actor who is sixty years old and can juggle torches to there are too many people of color in this play.
Second... the question should be asked "why do playwrights think that audience reaction is why their plays aren't being done?" They didn't get that answer from nowhere. The reason why playwrights think theaters are worried that their audiences won't go for it is "our audience won't go for it" is basic rejection language boilerplate. (This has particular resonance, as you might imagine, to black playwrights trying to get a play done at a largely white theater. )
So the question becomes... who aren't the ADs playing it straight with? Any social scientist will tell you that self-reporting is fraught with problems, so it could be that they aren't filling out the surveys in Outrageous Fortune accurately. This wouldn't necessarily be intentional, different context can radically change how people think and feel about various issues. And there are plenty of times in Outrageous Fortune where ADs self-reporting does not match up with reality (see the section on World Premieres (pgs 145-149). But it could also be that ADs and Lit Managers use "our audience won't go for it" when they don't really want to have a larger conversation about the play, because "our audience won't go for it" is, essentially, so subjective that the writer can have no response to it (unless-- cue Scott-- they are a locally-embedded writer).