Well, I think it's my turn to respond to some comments. If you haven't read this post below, you should do so, otherwise you'll shortly be pretty well bewildered.
Over at his own blog, Matt Freeman responded with some thoughts that mirror my own pretty damn well, especially this one:
Better to work through the problems and challenges with the goal of success, than see challenges and problems and let them stop the project from going forward.So, let's talk ...
LET'S GET THE COLLEGES INVOLVED
Colleges, Scott and Sean? Hell, yeah. As Sean says, it could be really valuable to involve colleges in the effort. I think any effort to link our educational programs with the actual theatre world are important, and it would be great for students to be involved with a creative effort like this.
LET'S DO SOMETHING REMARKABLE
I agree that main components of the combined effort are coordination and marketing. I don't think a uniform look for a poster is necessary, but coordinated press releases, internet presence, and things like that would be exciting. Sharing debt would not be part of it.
At it's simplest, it's just getting a whole bunch of people to do the same play at the same time and then telling everyone we can how cool that is. (Wow. That almost makes it sound less cool.) I'm stuck on the idea (via Seth, of course) that we need to find ways to do something remarkable and worth talking about OTHER THAN OUR SHOWS. The shows can be incredibly great and that should be the main thing attracting people, god willing, but it wouldn't hurt to do something else spectacular that gets them in the door in the first place. To attract new users, people who wouldn't normally attend theatre, we have to do something new and different. And, if we can promote good work in the process, all the better.
I don't know if the variety in production values would be perceived as a positive by the general public. Imagine you live in Princeton, NJ and have a generally equal drive to NYC or Philly. Your choice, for example sake, is to see Mary Zimmerman's Metamorphoses at either the Wilma in Philly or a similarly sized off-Broadway house in NYC.Hmmmmmmmm ... this one does have me kind of stumped. I hope that wouldn't happen. It would be nice if we could avoid such drastic differences in production values, but in the end (at least for this initial effort) I think you have to just trust that everyone's going to do their best work, if you've accepted them into the project, and they're willing to do the work, it wouldn't be fair to second guess them.
You go to Philly, your neighbor goes to NYC--do you feel cheated when your friend talks about a huge, multi-leveled pool of water on stage when your production featured a blow up kiddie pool? Or do you excitedly compare notes about the differences and similarities in the interpretation?
NYC? DEAD CITY? PREMIERE?
Also, I really believe in making the productions as localized as possible. So, casting from NYC would not be a goal (that came-up somewhere, I seem to recall).
Actually, I had an interesting thought during a reading tonight. We (Available light) held a free reading of Adam Bock's The Thugs tonight. It was great. There were a couple of the actors who have very midwestern accents, and I was thinking about the fact that they really wouldn't really fit into a NYC production of the show. BUT ... they're perfect for the show in Columbus, Ohio. The characters are meant to be like people you know, they're not supposed to be alien to the audience. So, someone with a midwestern accent works in the show here, probably more than someone who talks like they're from the East Coast somewhere. Anyway ... that's a very specific example and a long way of saying I belive cities can be well-served by good, local productions. Freeman puts it like this:
I actually am starting to see differences in cast and direction as a strength... it creates that sense of immediacy and local talent that is a strength of the stage, while still offering something that everyone can communally enjoy.
Okay this ...
A lot of people are talking using "Dead City," but this is a show that's already premiered, already received excellent reviews (I know I sold at least 50 tickets!), and can already go through the process you eloquently describe in your post of being picked up by individual companies. A National reopening of this would simply be branding it, and it would be a nonevent, or a belated apology to a talented playwright.So Dead City was just an example. I love the play, but the discussion at this point doesn't need to center on how right or wrong that particular one is. (Though, okay, I'd welcome a discussion of what play or playwright would be just right. Get it in the comments, please.)
Also, I'm not personally attached to the "premiere" aspect of it. It should be a play that doesn't have a national exposure, but something that has run in NYC would be fine.
In fact, I'm not positive that NYC needs to be a part of this. Mainly because producing a show there is quite different than producing anywhere else, so I'm not sure they'd be able to be equitably rewarded for the time and money they'd have to put in. I'm not saying it's easy anywhere, but NYC has particular challenges that should be recognized and not brushed under the carpet. (Boy, I'm gonna get in trouble for that paragraph, aren't I?)
WHAT HAVE WE GOT TO LOSE?
And I agree with Freeman again here:
Even if only built-in audiences attend, then what does a company lose? It gets the same result it would have it produced this play hypothetical play on its own.Well, yeah. Bottom line, each theatre would just be producing a show, which they'd be doing anyway, right? Hopefully they'll spend the same time and money (maybe a little more time) and gain a few audience members and some street cred for the effort. In that sense, what can anyone lose? Of course, the worst thing that could is happen would be for no one to notice and it turns out it wasn't worth it. Ah well. It's worth a showt
A NOTE FOR AARON
Oh, one last thing. Aaron - thanks for offering to help despite your reservations. That's courage, man. And I was checking out your profile. Infinite Jest is my favorite fiction book, and you've got great taste in films, but I don't think I could work with someone who listens to the Barenaked Ladies.