More New Works — A New Trend?!?

A very exciting season for lovers of new works seems to be shaping up in Washington D.C.  Fellow theatre lover Bill Adler shared yesterday’s Washington Post story by Peter Marks titled A bonanza of daring, across the boards.

Peter Marks says that:

 ”a theme is emerging for the offerings of 2013-14, and it’s as robust and optimistic a stream as any I’ve encountered.  In company after company, the emphasis is on broadening audiences’ horizons, presenting theatergoers with galleries of voices and projects they may not have heard or seen before.

Revivals are in retreat. “New” is the new normal.  Of the 53 productions proposed for ’13-’14 by the seven important theater companies that have thus far unveiled their seasons, 36 are new plays and musicals. Eleven of that total — or more than 20 percent — are world premieres. That figure does not even include the world-premiere engagement this fall of “If/Then,” a musical aiming for Broadway and starring Idina Menzel that could help reinvigorate the woefully underused National Theatre.”

Wow.  I am hoping for a trend here.

Without doing any method-based research that would pass even modest scrutiny, and recognizing that announcement season is not yet over, there does seem some reason to hope for a “new” new season.  A quick search reveals many theatre season announcements full of premieres as well as the too-hard-to-get second or third productions of great new works.

Examples:  Of the Denver Center Theatre Company’s eight subscription plays, fully half, (yes, FOUR!) are world premieres!   TheatreWorks has the world premiere of The Loudest Man on Earth and will be doing the second production of Lauren Gunderson’s Silent Sky , the California premiere of Warrior Class and the regional premiere of a new adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles. The Alliance Theatre in Atlanta has four world premieres in its 12 play schedule (two of them new musicals) as well as other very young works getting another chance at an audience after a previous premiere.  Of the seven musicals on Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre’s schedule two are new (Secondhand Lions and A Room With a View) and Glencoe, Illinois’ Writers’ Theatre announced today that its 2013-2014 season is “comprised of mostly premieres”.  So, there is clearly going to be a lot of fresh theatre in the new season around the country.

Please don’t misunderstand me — I don’t want only new works on theatres’ schedules.  To me, a great season is a diverse one —  one that balances the old and the new, the classic, the niche, the music, the comedy, the drama.  But as our world changes around us, our art needs to change too to help us recognize and process and be a part of those societal changes.  New works in theatre help the generations and groups within our population talk amongst themselves and to and with each other.  It seems there may be more of that communicating happening on American stages next year — and after those curtains come down.  I am delighted about that.

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