Posted: November 30, 2009 in Braak
Tags: , ,

What’s up with Chris Braak, who keeps getting involved in industries that are dying?  No one can make their living as a novelist, anymore, so I can’t make a living doing that.  Academia is starting to unravel, since no one cares about knowing things these days.  The theater is on a steep decline (though, in fairness, has been on its way out since well before I got involved, so I should have known better).

Though, in point of fact, I guess most industries aren’t doing well these days.

The Life of John Henry is done.  Due to administrative problems, it’s not eligible for the only regional theater award we have in Philadelphia, so it’s not going to get any reasonable cachet from that.  Two decent reviews, that’s nice. I asked my old playwriting teacher what I’m supposed to do with it now; his advice was to write more new world premieres.

World premieres, it seems, are “sexy.”  Not-world premieres are, apparently, like sleeping with used hookers.

Also, I can keep sending plays to development workshops, but there are problems with that.  First of all, most people I’ve met at development workshops don’t know what they’re talking about.  Like, they hire “dramaturgs” to work on your play with you, but what qualifications do the dramaturgs have?  They’re like me:  not expert, just out of school, trying to find some way to improve their reputation.  Their criticisms are useless!

I think it’s disingenuous to send a play to a development workshop knowing that I have no intention of actually developing the play in that environment.

So, what do you do with a new play?

Often, people advise me to put something up in the Fringe Festival, but I hate the Philadelphia Fringe Festival.  I mean, in theory, it’s nice–let’s all celebrate Philadelphia’s happening theater scene!  In practice, what a terrible fucking idea this is.  A hundred and fifty shows in three weeks, and the theater audience in Philly is, what, eight hundred people?

Hey, guys!  FIGHT IT OUT!

This can’t be the most effective way to get work into the public eye.  Instead of dividing the audience up, making them choose between all of our different productions, we should pool all of our resources together and do ONE AT A TIME.

So, new plan.  I am going to set up a system to do 10 world premiere plays–not development WORKSHOP, not script in hand, not staged reading bullshit–actual whole plays (with low production values, obviously).  10 world premiere plays in 20 weeks.  You use…say, let’s say you use three casts, with three directors, in a rotation.  One runs, while two rehearse.  Each play rehearses for four weeks, and plays for two.

You’d run it in the Summer, since no one does anything in the Summer in Philadelphia, anyway–this is to avoid stepping on people’s toes, though I’m not sure why I’m worried about that.  Most of the stuff that the theaters are doing in their on seasons could probably be safely missed.

There’s no reason you couldn’t do this, and with a fraction of the people and resources that you needed for the Fringe Festival.

God damn it.

  1. Moff says:

    Dude, you could totally do that. And if you did it, I would totally handle the PR campaign for you, free of charge. No joke.

    But for the record, people are making a living as novelists right now.

  2. Carl says:

    So then, what’s coming up on the career docket? Alchemist? Rum-runner? Rotary-telephone repairman?

    Hold it– weren’t we talking about a radio show a few weeks back? Well that’d work. We’ll just make sure we only pitch it to AM stations, ensuring almost no one is able to tune it.

    (By the by, I concur. A summer rep initiative with high-caliber artists featuring only new material is fantastic idea.)

  3. V.I.P. Referee says:

    You could set-up a page and have videos of each piece arranged in a grid, a’ la “The Brady Bunch” opening credits. You could find ways to connect the stories and make it possible for multiple pieces to be played at once, finding ways to thread them all together. So, there’s the option of viewing these pieces as isolated chapters, or as part of The Big Picture. Show how people’s lives play-out in real time. Kind of like a “Row, Row, Row your Boat” round in execution, but hopefully more meaningful.

    I’m totally serious. It would be different.

  4. V.I.P. Referee says:

    And miming. More public miming.

  5. V.I.P. Referee says:

    …also serious with that one.

  6. V.I.P. Referee says:

    You could also make weekly scene-lets that tie together the current world events of a given week; not with a sense of snarky comedy, but in a reflective way, something that makes people pause and think about what occured in human history during the week. Interpret current events and culture through different philosophical perspectives and then translate that into one powerful scene or monologue. The trick is to avoid simpering cheesiness or avant-garde moodiness while doing so; show people a different way of interpreting current events, something other than relying on talking heads, sell-out papers and candy-colored celeb rags to do the interpreting for them.

  7. braak says:

    Nah, I don’t want to put them together–I don’t like the idea of being principally limiting in the approach to material. It is, frankly, going to be hard enough getting ten decent plays together without finding elements to connect them. I’m probably going to have to write two just to fill out the numbers. I think that I’d want to run it as a kind of a theatrical cornucopia–giving the impression by wide disparity in content that there’s more story available.

    Hmmmm. HMMMM!

    Wait. Rum-runner, eh?

  8. Hsiang says:

    I went from a printer to selling books. Now I think I’ll just shave my hair into a tonsure and start illuminating manuscripts. Maybe brush up on my cuneiform too.

  9. V.I.P. Referee says:

    @ Braak: Fine.
    @ Hsiang: COOL.

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