The Playgoer: Quote of the Day

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Quote of the Day

"Producing a play by a first-time writer in the West End was always going to be a fascinating challenge, which is why I agreed to participate. Plays produced in smaller subsidized theatres which run for six weeks and are seen by smaller audiences than the ones enjoyed by On The Third Day are routinely seen as a success. That is why I believe that a seven-week run for a production of a new play by a first-time writer in the West End playing to audiences of 51% should be seen as an achievement."
- London Mega-Producer Sonia Friedman eulogizing her baby On the Third Day, aka The "Play's the Thing" Play. The reality-tv-sponsored experiment to see if an unknown drama can still succeed in commercial theatre has now posted its closing notice.

I appreciate Friedman's spin. But considering this whole venture was her attempt to prove the naysayers wrong, I hope someone asks her a follow-up about how she now feels about the possibilities for serious theatre in the commercial realm.... Her rationalization is worth , something, though, if it makes us rethink what is an appropriate "run" for a "straight" play. After all, she's right, the standard engagement of a new play at, say, Playwrights Horizons or Second Stage is just 3-4 weeks. Yet when Anna and the Tropics opened directly on Broadway a few years ago and ran longer than that, it was still considered a fizzle. It lost money, because despite playing to a nightly crowd more than enough to fill the Atlantic, it played to only 50% at best of a 1,000-seat house.

The "hit mentality" persists and it ain't helping. But why invite it, then.

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