The Playgoer: More Prizes for the Already Successful

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Thursday, January 07, 2010

More Prizes for the Already Successful

Nice that a new playwriting prize has been named for Horton Foote, and that it comes with 30-grand. But why set the requirements so unreachable for so many young playwrights?

The competition will invite 65 resident theaters to submit a play by an author who has written at least three original full-length plays that have been produced by professional theaters; selection committees will choose a short list of finalists; and the winner will be determined by a group of four artistic directors Mr. Foote worked with closely: Andre Bishop (of Lincoln Center Theater); James Houghton (Signature Theater Company); Michael Wilson (Hartford Stage Company); and Andrew Leynse (Primary Stages).
To have three plays already professionally produced doesn't make you necessarily a star, I know. And those writers could use the money, too, yes. But still--to get that far (three separate plays, mind you, not three stagings of one play) usually means you've already got some powerful folks pulling for you.

Just think how more the prize could help the playwriting profession if it enabled a one-show playwright to write his/her second play?

What's the point? To make it more clubby? Or just lessen the number of scripts these folks will have to read?


Art said...

I would be interested to see what they define as "professional theater" though.

If they mean that only playwrights who have had three plays produced by one, or several, of the 65 invited theaters, then, yes, it would be a pretty clubby affair.

I could think of many really good playwrights, who have had, say, one single play produced by a large LORT, but then several produced by by smaller professional theaters.

Would they be eligible?

Kris Vire said...

And it's worth emphasizing that not only must they have had the three professional productions, they've gotta have the clout to get submitted by the foundation's handpicked theaters. Clubby, indeed.

Ken said...

In a situation like this, I always feel that the prize is being given to a rather well-known writer (three different plays in professional theaters? That's called being pretty well-known in the theater universe) so that the prize, and the entity behind it, can become well-known, too.

Matt said...

Would been a step forward to see some more diversity on that judging panel.