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February 15, 2010


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The supply/demand thing is HUGE and I'm glad you mentioned it. Theatre, like most industries, has a natural cap on some many things. There are only so many theatres. There are only so many production opportunities available - my day job does 5 a year, adding a 6th would create anarchy.

I rant about this a lot on my blog, but everything starts with what our expectations are.

We take every statement from a frustrated playwright as a failure of the system. Sometimes it is. But sometimes it just the reality of how the business is constructed.


It's not just playwrights in over supply:


And I bet the same could be said for every art dependent on locality or a local style.

malachy walsh

It's worthwhile to point out this supply and demand problem, but I don't think it means there's a natural cap since demand can be created. And, when it comes to something like theatre, which is not an industry in the "car-industry" sense, demand always has to be created. (No one needs a play the way they need a car.)

Certain kinds of charismatic personalities intrinsically know how to create that demand. That's one of the reasons Joseph Papp is mentioned up front in the OF book.

Of course, there are other ways to create demand, as people in marketing will tell you. I simply wanted to point out, that while it might help to understand the new play problem through "supply/demand" framing, the angle isn't perfect. Recognizing those issues might help lead to some new ways of thinking about pitching new plays - and at the very least avoid the defeated conclusion that someone might come away with: we should stop pushing new plays because there isn't an audience for them.


I saw "Crumbs from the Table of Joy" at The Intiman I was in college. It was beautiful, despite having a heavy handed title that makes me laugh.

There's a running gag in "Ghost World" about a new art film that everybody is in love with called "The Flower That Drank the Moon" which has also become a running joke in me and Keith's home.

The two titles are similar.

Scott Walters

First off, I never impugn the motives of people who don't want to live in small towns unless they impugn those who do first!

However, what I was thinking was not about rural and small communities, but rather about academic programs. Think about all the theatre departments all over this country, most of whom don't do new plays or even newish plays. That's the group I'd hit up.

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