Friday, July 5, 2013

On Being 'The' (or 'A') Pittsburgh / Visalia Playwright

It was a brief discussion after a play with a director about to read one of my scripts.

Director: What is your goal, as a playwright?

Me: To be The Visalia playwright or even A San Joaquin Valley playwright. Maybe a dozen people will know my name! Or at least the name of one of my plays. Maybe.

Director: And then what?

Me: To be one of The Pittsburgh playwrights. That might be a bit harder….

Director: And then what?

Me: There's a "then what" after that? I hadn't thought about the next step. I'm still at the first step!

Director: This is Pittsburgh. Off-Broadway and Broadway aren't creatively far away. You need to think about that.

Me: I need to get something produced and fully staged in Pittsburgh before I worry about—

Director: Always think ahead. You never know who will be in an audience.

It was a good point. In Pittsburgh, you might have a Broadway actor, director, or playwright in an audience. I've met several, now, and worked with a couple of Broadway veterans. When I think about that, it gets a little overwhelming. It's also a reminder that every script has to be the best it can be.

I was only slightly joking about being one of The Pittsburgh playwrights. There are some towering historical figures and current dramatists in the Greater Pittsburgh region. By comparison, I cannot think of a major playwright — a major writer — from my native Visalia, California. That means I stand a better chance of being the best-known writer from Visalia. (I do know some amazing artists from Visalia, especially photographers and illustrators.)

Here's the list of Pittsburghers:

Recently, I wrote that writers have to be unrealistic. You need big dreams. Maybe I shouldn't joke about being among the Pittsburgh greats. Maybe that should be a goal. Seems unrealistic enough…

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