The Regional Affairs committee hosted three Community Conversations in January 2022, open to the full membership of the DG, where we met online to share our discoveries, air our concerns, and create conversation that leads to meaningful change. Common themes emerged from small-group breakout discussions led by members of the Regional Affairs committee as well as DG Regional Representatives and Ambassadors.
We heard about some of the creative developments that excite members across the country as we all emerge from the pandemic:
“I was shocked how much I learned from a Zoom rehearsal of my play.”
“I loved End of Play. It’s my favorite thing the DG has done.”
“I found an online affinity group that kept me writing, even when it was the last thing I wanted to do.”
“I was kind of a technophobe before You-Know-What shut down live theatre in my area. Working online to develop my work forced me to learn new skills. Now that we’re back in- person, I’m still using what I learned.”
Besides hearing about the creative workarounds that theatre makers discovered in the past two years, the Community Conversations yielded some common concerns among members. One theme was striking:
“My work gets produced in other parts of the country, but I can’t seem to break into the market in my hometown.”
“Theatres where I live are creating new play initiatives with small cohorts of writers, but the writers seem to get selected on a ‘who-you-know’ basis.”
“Yeah, theatres produce local playwrights where I live, but It’s always the same local playwrights.”
“Theatres in my area only produce the ‘name’ playwrights or the classics.”
“They might develop the work of local writers with readings, but you’re never gonna get a production.”
It’s counter-intuitive, isn’t it? If theatre is, by definition, a local event, live and in-person, then how is it that theatres aren’t producing the work from the variety of voices that emerge from the community around them?
Or are they?
You can help us find out. The Regional Affairs Committee has designed a short questionnaire which you’ll be receiving by an email with a link to the online survey. It’s also available here.
We’re looking to find out how and where your work is getting produced. We’d also like to learn if theatres in your area are providing new work development initiatives, and if those opportunities are accessible to all writers.
Please continue the conversation by filling out the survey when it comes your way. As with all efforts to collect data, the more people who participate in the process, the more meaningful the statistics we glean will be. We’ll be combining insights from this survey with information the DG gains from its other initiatives, including Fresh and Local, to get as accurate a picture as possible of the opportunities for playwrights across the country to have local productions of their work.
Can conversation create change? The Count raised awareness of inequities in opportunities for female and BIPOC theatre writers, and the public sharing of that information created both awareness and change in the season offerings of theatres across the country.
We’re hoping that our survey will be a step toward creating the same kind of change. We want to find creative ways to encourage theatres to produce the works of DG members in their area. How can local playwrights be agents of change in their communities? How can the national theatre scene be enriched and enlivened with more vibrant regional voices? How can theatres support and cultivate local dramatic voices, lifting up the storytellers who reflect the community in which they live?
It’s up to all of us to continue the conversation.
Be on the lookout for the email with the link to the survey, or fill out the survey online.
Regional Affairs Committee: Pamela Turner, chair. Thelma de Castro, Cheryl Coons, Kate Danley, Larry Dean Harris, Donna Hoke, Stephen Kaplan, Michael London, Jordan Stovall, Alicia Whavers, Emmanuel Wilson