Hello, artistic directors and literary managers! How are you? It’s season planning time, so if your theater is anything like mine, I know how fraught things can be. Finding the right stories to tell—stories that respond to the present moment, that speak to your audiences, that promise the possibility of tremendous engagement and interest—is never as easy as outsiders think it is. (Especially us playwrights!) So I thought I might make a gentle suggestion, if you don’t mind…
What if I told you I knew a play that featured two Muslim characters, two evangelical Christian characters, and one secular Jewish character wrestling their way painfully toward a tentative, collective hope after an act of religious violence? What if I told you this very same play had a hugely successful world premiere under its belt, one that generated significant revenue and yielded reviews with pull-quotes like these:
“A play that is so good, I suspect it will be picked up by every major regional theater in the country.”
“As it turns out, art (or theater) can change the world. It just takes people to start the conversations. Gwydion Suilebhan’s world premiere play is proof that.”
Right! I forgot to mention: this is *ahem* my play I’m talking about.
“The Butcher is like nothing else I’ve seen… It’s entertaining and smart, sure, but it also has the potential to change the way we think about religion and the seemingly insurmountable cultural divide.”
Oh, and that’s the title: The Butcher. I like to think it’s immediate and accessible, but at the same time, by the end the play, audiences love to ask each other which character the title actually refers to: the guy with the cleaver wearing the apron, or… well, I won’t spoil it for you.
I know this is a story that will get people talking. It doesn’t just invite conversation, it demands it. And the issues it raises about culture and faith and extremism and belief, in the current American climate—which doesn’t seem to be changing any time soon, sadly—have resonated with audiences everywhere this play has gone.
Speaking of which: this is a play that’s been properly developed. Before its world premiere, The Butcher had workshops in DC and NY and FL and NE, and tremendous artists from all over the country have brought their diverse personal histories to bear on it, and I want to believe all that intelligence reveals itself in the work. You’ll have to let me know what you think…
Might your production be the one to take it even further? If you’d like to read it, you can download it from the New Play Exchange. Heck, if you want to get right down to it, you can just contact me directly and we’ll find a time to talk. I’m sure we’d have a great conversation.