So, if you’ve been following along at home, you’ve noticed that the list of DC-area playwrights I’ve been keeping has now grown to include 190+ names. Playwrights are still trickling in; feel free to share the list, incidentally, and let me know of anybody else who should really be on it.
You may have also noted this quick-and-dirty analysis I did, which indicated that we might really be living in a playwright-rich area… and also that we’re either deficient in female playwrights or, well, just not doing enough work to find them.
About ten days or so ago I decided to create a Facebook group for DC-Area Playwrights, too. I hate the way that Facebook allows you to add people to groups against their will, so I’ve been ginger about building the membership. Without much effort, though, the ranks are beginning to swell. Please feel free to ask for an invitation: I’m not a gatekeeper so much as I am an instigator, so I’ll let anyone in who says they 1) Live in the DC area, however they define that term, and 2) Write (or make) plays.
Several people have been asking me, with great fervor and interest, what I plan to do next. The honest truth is that I really never intended to get this far. I just thought I’d make a list, because it seemed to me that somebody really ought to, and that was that. Evidently, I was naive. I should have planned better. All I have are big ideas.
But I really do not want to be an unwelcome ring-leader or rabble-rouser, and I certainly don’t want to wield any kind of gavel; I’ve already added one co-admin to the Facebook group as I’m writing this post, and I’d happily add another if somebody cares to step up. I want this to be our thing, whatever “our” is and whatever “thing” is. If there’s a need for us all to be connected, we should all help to shape that connection. Don’t you agree?
With that in mind… several people have suggested that a get-together of some sort is in order. Nothing formal, just a chance to all hang out at a bar and get to know each other. If we feel like making plans, we make plans; if we feel like griping, we gripe. Via the Facebook group, I’ve solicited ideas for a date and time and place that might work for people, with a goal of getting together before the Dramatists Guild conference in early June… if only so that we can carry any momentum forward into that second gathering. Look for the DC-Area Playwrights Facebook event and RSVP if you’re interested.
In advance of that get-together, I wanted to try to share a few high-level thoughts about why I think people seem to be latching onto the simple notion of a list of DC-area playwrights.
I think we spend a lot of our time as playwrights feeling lonely. We work by ourselves, oh, 95% of the time, and then we get to experience the joy of collaboration (I do really think of it as joy) for the few short weeks of rehearsal or the meager days of a workshop or reading. The thought of being connected is revitalizing.
I also think we struggle with a false sense of competition: the idea that we’re all scrounging against one another for the same few opportunities. I believe instead that if we raise the profile of every playwright in the area, if we help to promote and recognize each other, we will create new opportunities for all of us. More, in other words, equals more.
For me, being an artist means being of service to others. I love the thought of shining a light on my fellow playwrights, and I hope to play a modest part in raising the level of awareness about the quality DC-area theater. (I have been working quietly on a behind-the-scenes effort that I haven’t talked about with more than one or two other people yet; can’t wait for it to debut.) For all the gifts I’ve received working on theater in the area, it feels — genuinely — like the least I can do.