As the discussion about gender parity and diversity has continued to unfold in the wake of #TheSummit, Isaac Butler (among others) has been consistent in calling for a clear definition of what success might look like. What exactly are those of us calling for a new emphasis on inclusion in the American theater actually looking for? How can we set universally-accepted goals against which we can measure ourselves? (As you probably know, Iâ€™m a big proponent of measurement on the subject of diversity and gender parity.) If we canâ€™t articulate an ideal end state, we canâ€™t mark progress. And if we canâ€™t establish a positive positionâ€”if we canâ€™t lay out something to strive forâ€”weâ€™ll always be railing wildly against everything else. Nobody likes a complainer; everyone rallies around people who are taking charge and leading toward a goal. So I decided to try to define what for me would constitute success. Please note the emphasis there: this is my own interpretation, and the reas
H.G. Wells believed that in order to be an effective citizen in a modern democracy, one ought to be able to read, write, and think statistically. We playwrights are pretty darn good at the first two, but that third one? Odds areâ€”see what I did there?â€”we aren’t half as good as old H.G. would have liked us to be. (Is anyone?) I’ve been thinking about one particular set of statistics quite a bit in the last few years as I’ve been working on the New Play Exchange. Let me quickly run some numbers for you: By my best estimate, there are approximately 10,000 playwrights living in the United States. I base that figure on a small number of sources, from membership in the Dramatists Guild to the number of entries in Doollee, and though it might be off somewhatâ€”the number could even be as high as 20,000â€”it’s accurate enough for the moment. Each of those playwrights produces, on average, approximately one new play a year. Some may finish two or three, and some may h
A few years ago, while procrastinating on Facebook, I happened upon a status updateâ€”written by an artist I admire and with whom I have collaboratedâ€”that included the phrase “could care less.” If you’re anything like me, you have just cringed; you’re painfully aware that theÂ correct phrase is “couldn’t care less,” and your sense of moral right-and-wrong has just been offended. (I am not exaggerating; more on both pain and morality later in this blog post.) I wonder, however, whether you would have done what I did: correct my friend’s usage with a quick comment. “Don’t you mean,” I offered, “that youÂ couldn’t care less?” The reply I received, via private message, was immediate and sharp: “I didn’t know you’d joined the Grammar Police. I’ll be sure to let the boys down at Central Command know you’re doing your job.” My friend was not happy. I apologized profusely.
In the last few months, I’ve been consulting for a small number of communications firms. When a client like that asks you to help, you can’t help but be flattered. I mean: these are people who already know what they’re doing, to say the least. They don’t need me… but I’m glad they’ve been asking. My latest client is Cunningham Strategic Communications, a small start-up helping re-shape opinion in the clean energy sector. They’re involved in some of the most important conversations happening in the most difficult-to-get-inside-of rooms, and I was thrilled to work for them. We share the same values with regard to clean energy (bottom line: we both like it), and they made it easy for me to be successful. The website I built for them is simple… because it needs to be. As a start-up agency, Cunningham Strategic Communications is full of possibility and promise, rather than experience, so we decided a simple, scalable digital platform mad
The ability to speak with authority, enchantment, and precision about one’s own work is invaluable for an artist. There are two reasons why this is the case. First: in a theatrical ecosystem that fails to judge work simply on its own meritsâ€”that assesses us by our credentials and connections as much as by our creationsâ€”playwrights who can articulate the value of their artistic vision to institutional gatekeepers are more likely to get produced. Second: in an American landscape crowded with stories and with storytellers, playwrights who can build their own brands with theatergoersâ€”who can engage audience members (with brio and personality and intelligence and energy)Â in a conversationÂ about their work on their own terms and, most importantly, outside of an institutional contextâ€”are much more likely to stand out. Being that articulate is damned difficult… and for some of us (for a wide variety of societal and personal reasons) it’s nigh on impossible. I have g