Since you're here wondering about Militant Language and the National Premiere idea, allow me to fill in some details.
First of all, the whole thing started in the comments of a post on Matthew Freeman's On Theatre and Politics blog. (You'll find that a lot of theatre bloggers like to combine the two on their sites.) I got inspired by the ideas there, and wrote a post called "Every City Should Have a Dead City". (Funny coincidence, Dead City is a play by Sheila Callaghan, who's on the cover of that very American Theatre magazine that directed you here.) So, I suggest you open new tab in your browser and go read that post. Then come back, we'll wait.
The audience hears some really annoying - yet amusing - Muzak. Maybe something from Grunge Lite.
(You see how we did that? Theatre bloggers often enjoy inserting obscure pop culture references and funny You Tube videos in the cracks around their artistic analyses and political diatribes.)
Ok, you're back? Did you read all the comments? Well, you have to read the comments. A lot of the good stuff is in there.
After you read the comments, you're going to want to read this post, in which I responded to a lot of the comments.
More Grunge LIte.
Done there? Okay, I'll tell you how we got from there to here. You're gonna see some blue words that say "Continue reading 'Welcome American Theatre Readers'". Click those to get the rest of the story, and so I can track how many of you are reading today. Thanks.
After a month or two, the enthusiasm kind of died out as we realized how incredibly difficult it would be to get a group of theaters of any size to co-ordinate, and, though there was no official declaration of giving up, we stopped working.
Meanwhile, Sean Christopher Lewis, extra-ordinary playwright and touring solo performer, was reading all these posts with great intrigue. What a coup that could be for a playwright, to have an independent network of theaters debut one's play at the level. In a way, it'd be a lot better than a New York opening. Could it it happen?
And that's where the story gets good. While we artistic directors were all worried about how to pick a play, a playwright, one determined enough to do the work on his own, beat us to the punch and brought the idea to life. Sean had the right play, Militant Language, and we could do it at the right time, in the month before the most important election of our lifetime.
So, Sean started contacting theaters, beginning with the producers who were on-board fore the national premiere idea to begin with (Next Stage, Halcyon, Available Light) and began pursuing others. At the peak of excitement, it looked like there would be productions and/or readings at a dozen theaters, all in October. Now, as it's turned-out, it's going to be a bit of a rolling national premiere, with all those readings and productions occurring over the next several months. Producing theatre isn't easy, and many of the groups willing to take a risk on this kind of work are in tenuous situations.
None-the-less, the play will be debuting all over the country this month and throughout the season, and it's a tribute to Sean's ingenuity and the potency of the idea. This month's American Theatre also features this season's Top Ten most produced plays. The bottom two only have eight productions. Sean's efforts could yet land Militant on that list. (Though we should note that few of the theatre willing to produce such a daring play are big enough be in the TCG.)