i & me & you
A blog about a play
5. The Road & The Puzzle
So, now there’s a first draft of a play and it got taken on a tiny test drive, the wheels got kicked, and it seems like it might be a vehicle. Time to get it out on the road, right?
Ah, but the road . . .
If you’re thinking about becoming a playwright, here’s something you should know: the road to production is so much longer than you can imagine. And even if you imagine a road that stretches out like the Great Wall of China, it’s so, so, so much longer. There are a lot of theatres, and it may seem there are plenty of places to go, but look at a season at Pioneer (or any theatre in not just this amazing city, but any amazing city). Let’s say there are seven or eight things offered in that season. Unless it’s a theatre devoted to doing brand-new plays (and there are not that many of those), there might be one new play in any given season.
And that’s IF there’s a new play on the season at all. And in the theatres that do mostly new plays, there are so many considerations that are under the microscope before the play itself is even slipped under the eyepiece. Things like “are we working as hard as we can to present a multitude and variety of writers’ voices in this season?” And “do the plays we are presenting this season cover a wide range of topics?” For example, looking at this particular play (because that’s what we’re here doing, you and me), is the theatre already doing a love story in the season? Something set in the future? If so, this little play just isn’t going to fit into the puzzle of putting together a season of theatre for any theatre.
Because it is a puzzle. Putting on any play is a great, great risk. And anybody who has gone into the business of finding plays and putting them out into the world for audiences to see deserves an enormous truckload of delicious chocolate as a reward. Plays are important. Theatre is important. It’s important to have a place for us to gather and ask questions that are on our minds, and then a lobby to go to and talk about those questions as soon as the play is over. It’s important.
So there’s the long road of getting people to notice a play, and on the other side, the puzzle of how to choose which plays to do. It all seems impossible.
But every once in awhile those two things meet and the play gets picked. And when that happens you should not just jump up and down and be happy, but you should also quietly sit and reflect on your great, great good fortune.
Pioneer Theatre Company has a thriving method for working on the puzzle—through the Play-By-Play new play series, Karen and the theatre give writers a terrific playground to find out what they have. And for the theatre to discover if the play might be one of the pieces that fits into a season.
So, I’ve spent a goodly amount of time quietly remembering how lucky I am to be here with this little play. This little play that found its way on the road and slid right into the puzzle of Pioneer’s 2017-18 season.
If you see me, we can jump up and down a bit together. See you soon.
—Jeff Talbott, Playwright