Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The biggest little question

I suppose that the musings in this post may stem from my recent realization that my problems are not all that interesting, but perhaps not entirely.

My first formulation of the problem on my mind was "is it really possible to be an artist outside of New York," but while that question my be a bit shallow on its own, it echoes a deeper query: are the resources of a large urban area necessary for certain modes of artistic expression?

Of course, my first thought is the theatre, which does seem to require the large concentrations of both resources and audience in order to exist, particularly as contrasted to film. Making a movie and staging a play are both prohibitatively expensive endeavors. In the cinema, however, the costs of producing a film (which are extremely high) are distinct from the costs of screening the film (which are extremely low). Thus, if the resources can be marshaled for production, it is relatively easy to drive a return through multiple screenings across a broad geographic base as well as sales of copies of the film to individuals for home viewing.

In the theatre, the costs of production and the costs of performance are inseparable, the size of one's audience are limited by both by the capacity of the performance space and by the demographics of the immediately surrounding area. A film can travel across the country for the cost of shipping a print. A traveling theatrical production is a bit more demanding.

Of course, all this is obvious. Broadway is Broadway for a reason.

A novelist can live anywhere he wants. It is easier to live in New York and be close to one's publisher, but certainly not necessary. Is the same thing true for a playwright?

1 comment:

Tim said...

Well, it all depends on the kind of plays you want to write/produce. There are actors and stages everywhere. Unless you're mounting a big-budget touring production of a musical or something, Broadway doesn't really seem necessary. Even if you did want to premiere something on Broadway (or London's West End or whatever), it really necessary (or even all that helpful) to live there? I doubt that an address in Manhattan or Brooklyn would suddenly make any theater open their doors. Unless the problem is that you feel uninspired because you're not able to see everything that you want to see?

Also, this comparison may not be fair, and East Lansing isn't Chicago, but writing plays in the midwest didn't seem to hurt David Mamet too much. Just to put that out there.