Anyone ever been on OkCupid? It’s a hipper match.com, an online dating site which has you declare you interests (from sociopolitical to sexual), take personality quizzes, and post some arresting photos—all to attract a potential mate. Once you’ve completed your OkCupid profile, you’re visible to all sorts of local hopefuls who may or may not message you hoping to try a bit of you on for size. You, too, can browse potential mates! It’s very user-friendly and “intuitive,” as OkCupid uses the data you supply it with to find you better potential matches.It’s fascinating, fun, and can lead to real life romance if done with enough care. Spend a little time at the computer, set up some real-life dates, hit it off (with a highly scored match probably), and the next thing you know, you’ve got yourself a long-term relationship! Wow! Online dating is cool! And easy!!!
Social networking is most fascinating, thrilling, and useful when we can pull it off the grid and find real-world application. The appeal is simple: it’s wildly efficient and organized.
Efficiency and organization are two elements crucial to the production of the new play. So, what happens if we apply a bit of the social networking model to the crazed culture of the new play? What if there was an OkCupid to match playwrights and their plays to producers and theatres? WHAT IF?!
Well, the National New Play Network is going to find out with its upcoming online New Play Exchange, described so in a press release: “the New Play Exchange will combine a script database, crowd-sourced recommendations, and the interactivity of a social networking site to change the way literary departments and playwrights function field-wide.”
The New Play Exchange is built around two portals—one for playwrights and one for readers (including theaters, literary managers, dramaturgs, etc.)—that access a singular database to which playwrights may upload and create profiles for their plays. Searchable and sortable, these profiles will feature genre, cast size, playwright identity or region, and keywords, making it easier for readers to find what they may be looking for to suit their programming or production needs. Once they do, readers can set up a first date with the play or playwright, and—if all goes well—a new creative relationship is born. Likewise, readers can set up profiles specifying the kind of work they’re looking for, and playwrights can submit their work with specific intent hoping for a similar outcome.
I think it’s a genius application of social networking to a process that can never get enough efficiency and organization. Looking to a “field-wide launch” in 2015, the New Play Exchange could revolutionize new play production in this country—or, at the very least, the matchmaking therein.
As with all social networking innovation meant to inform our real-world interactions, the New Play Exchange will most likely face challenges to its credibility. Many are skeptical of the friend who excitedly reports, “I’ve met someone! On OkCupid! And it could really be something special!” But results will come with a bit of courage. The technology needs to be bravely embraced by the community at large. Change takes time, but I, for one, am excited to watch this innovation unfold. Perhaps by 2020, the digital lovebug will have bitten and surprised hordes of playwrights and producers, yielding healthy, exciting relationships (and therefore good new theatre—blessed be for that is the goal) all over this country!
- National New Play Network – how cool! (dramalit.wordpress.com)