Friday, September 22, 2006

Buffalo and Iowa City are the only towns outside of New York

This is NOT the Elizabethan Stage in Ashland, Oregon. It is actually somewhere in Buffalo. Or Iowa City.

AS YOU MAY or may not know, there's been plenty of interesting discussion recently on different blogs about the idea of whether theatre is too "New York-centric" and questioning the idea that "all good things in theatre happen only in New York."

Being someone who's already made my decision about that, and acted on it, I've over-commented about it already on several of the blogs where it's hottest. However, I do find it interesting how little some seem to understand about what's going on in the regions. Particularly considering how much new work is created elsewhere and then brought to NY.

Even weirder is the straw dog argument occasionally floated that makes a comparison between New York and Buffalo and/or Iowa City. Occasionally Chicago's mentioned as a place that might have a scene but somehow LA, Seattle, SF, Boston, DC and Minneapolis (home of the Playwrights Center!) have disappeared.

Yep, it's just Buffalo and Iowa City.

I don't think that's really the kind of framing anyone wants on this conversation, but it may also help explain why few have talked about one of the best things to happen to the New York theatre scene in the last few years: The Summer Play Festival (SPF).

You see, the festival is basically a month-long showcase of work by writers who've not been seen so much (ie, had a big production of major note though they have been around) in Gotham - people like Kelly Stuart, Sheri Wilner, Alex Moggridge, Laura Schellhardt, Michelle Carter, Victor Lodato, Karen Hartman, John Yearly, Carlos Murillo, Liz Duffy Adams, Heather MacDonald, etc, etc. In some of these cases, the writers got some decently noticed productions in NY afterwords, so one has to think the Tepper concept may be working - Beeber, Martinez and Hudes are only a few that I seem to have noticed more of following their shows at SPF.

(Oddly, the existence of the SPF proves how much is going on West of the Hudson - as well as how difficult it is for new writers to get a decent production in NY.)

Anyway, it's all a little silly and there's, occasionally, a sense of defensiveness happening on both sides.

But please, feel free to decide for yourself, here are links to the comments - they provide a pretty good snapshot of how people in and out of NYC see the Big Apple and its children who aren't living at home anymore.

A Poor Player, New York Centrism
Parabasis, What it takes
Laura Axelrod, GASP.

Ulimately, I'm just glad to be on the west coast, still sober, still writing and, most importantly, closer to my wife.

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