Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Development Hell Of Our Own Making @ SF Theater Pub Blog

My Theater Pub column this week is my longest column yet! Even better, it's also one of my most widely-read and -discussed columns, too, after @2amt (2 AM Theatre) tweeted a link to it. I am really proud to have written something that started some conversations. I am also really proud of the fact that, according to Google, I am the only person who has ever used the phrase "a development hell of our own making."

And that's the theme of the piece, basically: we are told not to self-produce our plays until they are "ready," and that we should put them through multiple drafts, readings, and workshops before production. But is it possible to take that too far? There seems to be a trend of telling writers that they must develop a play for years before it can be considered stageworthy—and that has dangerous implications for the theater.

The column also contains this theory/metaphor/analogy that I am really proud of, because
it's offbeat and slightly offensive and as close as I'll ever come to making a dead-baby joke in a serious essay:
You’ve probably heard people compare writing a play to having or raising a child. And, in the olden days of high infant mortality, parents would have lots of children and then try not to get too attached to them, for fear that the child would die. Discipline was severe, and parents expected their kids to grow up fast. Nowadays, people plan for their children carefully, have just one or two kids, lavish them with attention, and overthink every aspect of parenting. Likewise, in the olden days, playwrights expected to write plays at a steady pace, have them produced regularly, and then move on to their next play. But, nowadays, we are encouraged to write fewer plays, and become “helicopter parents” to the plays we have written.
The column, by the way, is titled "I Don't Want to Wait," and now most of you probably have that '90s Paula Cole song stuck in your head and scenes of Dawson's Creek flashing before your eyes (YOU'RE WELCOME). But it's also pretty close to the title of a song by my friend Robin Yukiko – "Don't Wanna Wait" is from her new album, and the video just came out:

My boyfriend appears briefly in the video as a stern, disapproving librarian... very out of character for him, I must say. (Well, the bookishness and the good dress sense is not out of character, but the stony-faced attitude is!)

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