As Isaac announced, there will be some in depth reactions to Outrageous Fortune coming along and I'll be doing some of them. I'm really looking forward to it. This book is a tough, tough read, but it's really invaluable and worth checking out. I think the group of us tackling it will have some interesting perspectives and make for engaging reading. At least I'll aim for that.
One thing, though, I think is important to note. Well, two things. These things have gotten a bit obscured in the prior discussions and, as we embark on more serious thinking about it all, it's worth reiterating.
- There are more than playwrights quoted and discussed in this book. The authors talked to playwrights and surveyed them, but they also surveyed artistic directors, theatre staff members, what they call "new play mavens," agents, producers, a whole cross-section of the theatre world. To characterize this book as the state of American playwriting does it a disservice. The subtitle they have is really pretty accurate: the life and times of the new American play. It's a much, much wider lens than has been portrayed so far.
- The playwrights interviewed and surveyed are considered "working" playwrights. It's easy to hear the kind of things that come up in these discussions and think, "Well, it's just the sour grapes griping of the backbenchers and nobodies, trying to tear down the system." The list of playwrights interviewed and surveyed for this book is pretty impressive (if I do say so myself) and includes award-winners, masterpiece-writers, and people who are regularly produced and produce themselves at all levels. And, yes, there are less accomplished writers (like yours truly), but, by and large, it's a group of people who are active in the field, and successful. That makes the financial section of the book all the more depressing and shocking. But it should inform the whole discussion.