I’ve gotten the chance to work on a couple new plays over the past six months, and never once did I think about the writer’s being paid for their work. I was lucky enough to be a part of the production team on Williamstown Theatre Festival’s production of A Great Wilderness. Through the eight weeks of this production I watched the designers, directors and company receive their paycheck, but never once did I see the playwright receive any compensation for being in the room nearly as much as the stage management team was. I never even thought about the fact that so few of them are receiving any form of pay for all of the work they do.
The New York Times wrote an article highlighting how little writer’s and their work are respected and supported financially. I can’t imagine going to work for 6-8 hours a day and not receiving any pay for my time there. Sure, the playwright doesn’t need to be there for it to move forward, but it’s a new play that is still developing. It seems a little counter-productive to not have the writer there. The writer wants to be there, the design team, director and company wants the writer there. Doesn’t it all seem a little ludicrous to not have the writer be there? The more the writer is in the room, the better the script. The better the script, the the better the acting. The better the acting, the better the production. Seems like common sense to compensate your writer.
Writers are just trying to get by like the rest of us. We have unions. They don’t. It seems like we should be supporting the people who create the world in which we live… Guess not?