2017 Frank Zuback

Are you a provider of product?
Are you feeding the beast?

Hi! This is Frank Zuback. You might remember me from any number of CTI, TRU or TOC events. I have been doing a lot of work lately with emerging (and not-so-emerging) playwrights. This has led me to hours of musings about just how these playwrights view their work in relation to the business of theatre, which IS the business they ultimately would like to be successful in. So, I've decided to blog about some thoughts, observations and problems I've encountered or that were raised by playwrights.

I have just read about 25 plays/musicals in the last month and a thought came to me while preparing a critique of the last play I'd read. It was: "Do playwrights, in general, ever consider the fact that they are providing "product" for the theatre?" I mean, really, that when you get down to it, a playwright NEEDS to write about something that inspires him/her to write - and that's fine! But there is also a part that comes after you've been pouring your heart and soul out into all those pages that screams: "Who is my audience? Who will pay to see this?"

We all want to believe that we write about things that interest us and that therefore other like-minded folks will feel as you do about your work. But will they? Will they pay to see it? Time to ask yourself something that I and every other producer asks him/her self and that is - what makes your piece unique enough that people will part with their hard-earned dollars and time (not to mention the several years and raising hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars a producer will invest). What is the "take away"? What questions have you raised and/or answered and in what unique way have you done so? For example: let's say that you have written a play about family? Fine. From Harold Pinter ("The Homecoming") to Clarence Day ("Life with Father" - which happens to be the longest running non-musical on Broadway - EVER!). Quite different takes on "family" don't you think: And where does yours fit in?

So, are you a provider of product for theatre? Are you working at "feeding the beast"? What guides you to write?

Let's talk. Comments are always welcome. I'd be more than happy to hear your thoughts on this topic.

COMING SOON: Information about our first TOC TALK where industry pros will share the one bit of advice they each feel playwrights need to know.

Are you a provider of product?
Are you feeding the beast?

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HI Frank, I love this! We met at TRU when I was talking about Abraham's Daughters, my play about Palestinian Muslims and American Jews that I absolutely believe is a PRODUCT, but to get away from the sticky politics of that subject I wrote WHORTICULTURE (Live Girls in Pop-Soil!) come and see the industry read on 5/31 at the Dramatists Guild Fund's Music Hall (2pm) and you can tell me if it's worth paying for. What guides me? Passion and Necessity. Eventbrite to reserve, up tomorrow.

Emma Goldman-Sherman


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