Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Arthur Laurents shows us the money, literally

"You win a contest, and then what?  Most theaters are not impressed that you won a contest.  They are impressed by money.  This is an inducement.  The object is to get the play on, in addition to giving the playwright some financial help.  What most playwrights want is to get their play onstage, and it's so hard to get new plays on."

This quote is from Arthur Laruents, a Tony Award-winning Broadway director, playwright & librettist (you may recognize his name for WEST SIDE STORY or GYPSY).  It's from the recent article in the New York Times announcing his new annual playwriting award.

Why do we need another playwriting award?

This one is different.  It gives $50,000 to an emerging playwright (hey, for playwrights, that's like 3 years salary), and he's giving $100,000 toward the production costs to mount the recipient's plays.

This is one of the best awards to happen to playwrights in a long time.

Laurents knows that "money talks and b.s. walks" and is trying to have an award with a built-in incentive for creating new works.  We need more awards and development programs like this.  (We need more people like Arthur Laruents, too, really.)

I especially appreciate the comment about not wanting to have a writer's colony because that decision would involve too much bureaucracy.  If there is one thing playwrights and the new play development process doesn need, its more bureaucracy.

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