Writing for the future…

I return to blogging from a short break taken while I completed the final research paper for my BA.  This research paper looked at the effect that the economy has on the commercial West End.  One of the findings of this paper threw no surprises in stating that new writing stands little chance of success in the West End at this time.  The costs faced by producers are now bigger than ever before.  With only three in ten West End productions returning their investment and only one of these making any profit at all (Richard Pulford, SOLT), the prospect for new writing is unforgiving.  The trend appearing is that many more plays and musicals are produced in the provinces, only much later making their West End debuts.  This is arguably due to the lack of fringe venues in the West End.  In London there is little process of a play or musical being discovered in a small off-West End theatre and then gaining a transfer, unlike on Broadway.  Though, the Chocolate Factory has been extraordinary in producing good quality productions that have transferred and indeed toured, it has been quite some time since something from the Bush moved into town.  London does benefit from a fantastic number of pub theatres, however more often than not shows from these venues do not translate.  Something that sells-out the King’s Head would do its entire week’s business in one performance in a West End theatre.

In these uncertain times, it takes a producer with some nerve to pick up an unknown play and set up in town.  Of course the established producers that could afford this risk no longer read new material.  So what are the options for modern playwrights?  I recently came across the most fantastic initiative in Liverpool by a company called Organic Cherry.  The organisation runs a monthly workshop inviting writers, actors and directors to come together creatively.  This provides an excellent opportunity for playwrights to try out their material and an exciting approach to discovering and developing new talent.  It would be fantastic to see more initiatives such as this to provide the starting ground for new writing.  Could this become a new forum for the development of new plays?  It would certainly be interesting to see producing companies setting up initiatives such as this to bring in new material and new creatives.  I’ll certainly be following this idea in search of material for any future projects.

More information about Organic Cherry can be found at: http://www.organiccherry.org.uk/.

theatreJunki © 2009

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