Today I was reading Howlround’s Article about Robert O’Hara, playwright in residence at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington DC. While discussing the pros and cons of his new job… well it honestly sounded primarily like pros. He gets to continue working on his writing, with salary, and at the same time be part of a wonderful theatre company.
For me this sounds absolutely amazing, being able to do what I love with salary. I imagine I am not the only one that would be in love with earning salary doing what I love. On top of that I he gets to work with an amazing theatre company being able to work on pieces he wants to be part of.
But even this comes with a hitch. He now has to work on some things he is less than excited to do. For example, Robert O’Hara had to do a season announcement for the theatre, and when asked if he would do it again immediately said no. He knew that doing an announcement was outside his comfort zone as someone that prefers to have their work do the talking for them. But he did it anyway, because he had to for his job. He also struggles working occasionally in an office that is not conducive to his writing. So along with the perks do come some set backs
At the same time he is getting to direct shows he has wanted to direct and read more plays to see what he might want to work on in the future. In a way I wish this could be the structure of theatre in the future, giving a solid wage to everyone involved so they can truly focus on broadening the performances available to everyone. Instead of relying on classics more new theatre could be circulated around. Playwrights would be payed to keep writing making it possible for more new playwrights to work on what they love.
While this dream may be a far away one, I do look forward to the day when working in the theatre can get anyone a working wage. If everyone from the playwrights to the run crew get payed, it will allow artists to do what they want and expand the field of what is available to watch. I hope that more people can end up in the shoes of Robert O’Hara in the future, so new artists have a chance to flourish.