Leap of Faith
About a year and half ago I was having coffee with Daniel Kelly, the director of my new play that was set to world-premiere at Urbanite in Sarasota. We started talking about the commitment that new work takes from actors and designers vs. the commitment of doing tried and true plays. There is an enormous leap of faith that is required to invest in new work. That is not to say that this doesn’t happen when working on already-produced plays. But new work requires belief in the unknown.
Let’s look for a moment at a play that has had one or more productions – which are what make up the seasons of most theatres. That play has a track record, a reference point. To use the analogy of an explorer – think of plays that have had one or more productions as terrain that has been explored and therefore it is safe, or rather safer territory.
However, new plays are essentially new frontiers of uncharted, unexplored, undeveloped land.
Given the amount of money and resources that a theatre must invest in a production it’s easy to see why artistic directors are cautious about committing to new work. There is a financial risk for putting a new play in a season.
But beyond this there is the time and energy investment that goes into developing new work. Unless the play has had extensive workshop development, the first production is where the playwright works out the kinks and figures out the timing. Films are polished and shaped in the editing room. Plays are polished and shaped in the first production.
Next week I start developing my newest play at American Stage. So to all of my collaborators past and near future: thank you for your fearless commitment to new work. Thank you for your leap of faith.