New plays. Everyone seems to have their opinion on new plays. For some reason, I find that the largest issue at hand is this idea that new plays and the classics cannot live together in one world. Granted this is not the view of most theatre artists or their audiences, but I find that most people are either for or against new plays.
In our dramaturgy class this week, after reading Outrageous Fortune by Todd London and In The Intersection by Diane Ragsdale, I found that a lot of our focus was drawn to this world of the new play. These readings combined with the opinions of our class, allowed us to hash out these “stigmas” that surround new plays.
As a member of the theatre community, I too have opinions about new plays. I understand the risks that are often associated with a new works as well as the added time and struggles that will come with a new piece. But what I don’t understand is how there are so many theatre companies that really try to stay away from producing new plays. Perhaps this is changing as we speak, but I have yet to see a theatre’s season that consists primarily of new plays. Too often I hear theatre people stating that we must keep the classics. I agree with this, I am in no way saying that we should stop performing classics, I just think that it is important to remember that at one point in time these “classics” were also new plays.
The continuation of theatre as an art from relies on a theatres desire to produce new plays. If we stop actively pursuing new playwrights, new plays, and innovative spaces, theatre is bound to fade away. We simply cannot afford to keep producing works that everyone knows. Not only does it become boring for an audience to see the same things over and over again, but it will also become rather dull for the performers, designers, and management.
I may have a different point of view on new plays because I am currently in an environment that supports and pursues new works. Boston University’s School of Theatre dedicates a portion of its season to new works, The New play Initiative. I see the benefits of working with a new play. Living in Boston I also get to see new works grow and expand. From this I see the importance of working on and exploring new work. We must be willing to put the time and the effort into new plays so that our theatre community can grow. We must look beyond the fear that is associated with new works and start to take a leap of faith. Because you never know when this new play will one day become a classic.