Should Theater Nurture Artists?

Should theater nurture artists? To ask this question seems hopelessly naive since theater does exactly squat to nurture artists. The theater community takes everyone for granted. They take actors for granted. And they take playwrights for granted. They don’t even bother to offer anyone any encouragement because it seems like there will be an endless stream of talent coming to the stage door.

But plays don’t write themselves. Plays don’t fall out of the sky and drop into your lap. Somebody has to conceive of a play and bring it into existence by writing its script. Of course, a script is not a play in the sense that it is not a production, but we never even get to that step without the initial script.

It may seem that there will be an endless supply of scripts. You will be sent more scripts than you can read whether you want them or not. It will get to the point where you won’t want to encourage any more scripts to be written or sent to you. But will they be good scripts? Sure, there are plenty of people who will try their hand at writing a play but nobody can make a living doing that so inevitably they give up. The endless supply of bad scripts is entirely made up of amateur efforts because nobody can become a professional. There is simply no professional development being done.

Ultimately, theater does a disservice to itself by failing to nurture artists. Even a generous soul can’t afford the time to work on writing plays when he has bills to pay. Fortunately, I can afford to be so generous because I have a cushy job and live in a boring city. However I have very little incentive to write a great play and nothing really gets done without incentives. I strive to write plays because I appreciate plays as literature. I think it is an accomplishment just to write a play. I am very focused on the creative act, the little matter of bringing something into existence. It is not enough to conceive of great things, you must act to bring about great things. Too many artists in the theater community are waiting around, expecting to be given something. For example, actors are waiting to be given a part or their big break. But the creative writer must take the initiative. The creative writer must act to bring the show into being, from concept to script at the very least. It is entirely up to the creative writer to realize his imagination or vague fancy in the definite form of a completed script so something can come of it.

But the playwright is only a little god. He can bring the idea for a play into being and give it some form. He can write the script which is a sort of sketch but not the painting. It is up to the theater to take things further and present the play to the public as a fully realized production, a manifestation of the imagination in the world.

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