Toward the end of the TPS-hosted discussion on outrageous fortune: the life and times of the new american play, host and Executive Director of TDF Victoria Bailey commented on the amazing amount of candor the Seattle audience brought to the event: “Through our whole tour, no city has been as honest and communicative as you have been today.”
People never think of Seattle as the confrontational type – just try making eye contact with anyone on the street. But pack a theatre full of opinionated, passionate artists and you will see fireworks, as we did Monday morning.
Playwrights, directors, producers and many others involved in theatre showed up at the Center House Theatre to hear from Bailey as well as the two authors of the book, Todd London and Ben Pesner. Much of their findings for the book were pretty disheartening for playwrights hoping to make a living in theatre (if such a person exists.) For example, their studies showed 62% of playwrights earn $40,000 or less, and more than half of their income was from sources unrelated to playwrighting. Their research also went into the great divide between playwrights and artistic directors – “everybody wants the same 10 playwrights” as an anonymous quote said in their slide.
After an overview of their findings, the floor was open to Q&A from the 80-90 members of the audience. While some of the discussion was rehashed arguments or points of view, there were also plenty of interesting offshoots and dialogues between sections of theatre that normally never see each other. Watching a playwright directly address an artistic director or hearing the point of view of a board member or director in context of this event was pretty fascinating. I unfortunately did not catch most of it, but I do have some of it on video so expect it soon!
Victoria Bailey was right, there was an honesty in the discussion that only comes from having everyone in the same room. Most everyone wished they had set aside more time to continue the discussion, as it seemed to only just be starting when 1pm came around.
I missed most of the discussion period but there are a few places to get a more in-depth recap:
- Paul Mullin: Fooled Again? The Seattle Outrageous Fortune Discussion (some great discussion in the comments as well)
- The Stranger (Brendan Kiley): Slings and Arrows: How F*cked is American Theater? (if you couldn’t tell by the title, there is some strong language)
- Open Source Theatricals (Louis Broome): Outrageous Fortune, The Presentation
Thanks again to Theatre Development Fund for stopping by and facilitating and sharing! If you don’t have the book, it’s a definite recommended read: http://www.tdf.org/TDF_Article.aspx?id=343&do=v