By Sevan Kaloustian Greene, member of the 2011 Emerging Writers Group.
They (whoever the self-appointed tech-pundit naysayers are right now) say blogs are dead. A form on its way out the door - prone to a quicker extinction than the dinos. But I disagree.
Despite the overflow of armchair critics blog spotting their way through our modern society, there are a few gems in cyberspace that actually create and contribute to discussions whether they be political, artistic, or about the latest tiff between the Real Housewives. Blogs are important. They are our contemporary Socratic circles that extend to all corners of the globe. They can institute change, report news faster than most media outlets, and allow for a self-entitled space where people feel free to say whatever they want.
Halfway through my tenure as a 2011 EWG writer, I realized that we didn't have a blog and found it odd. Having talked with many of my group's writers, as well as alums, I found that our conversations were rich, heated, and honest. Sure, we sometimes just whined about the current state of theater (inclusive of playwriting), and there was a lot of tipsy commiserating about rejection letters, but we were discussing important topics. Lest I leave an impression that we were like grad students hanging out at the local dive talking about Proust, we also talked about the Real Housewives on occasion.
What really sparked my drive for this blog was the Matt Smart post on Howlround which started a wildfire of discussions on that blog as well as playwrights' personal blogs. I was amazed by the range of responses and the kinds of discussions it generated. And I thought - that's what we're missing.
Playwriting, for the most part, happens in a vacuum. We sit, we write, we sometime share, but we rarely sit and talk about our processes or our business - at least not as frequently and, often, as openly as other artists in the industry. But when we do it's a maelstrom of creativity, intellect, and passion. I only wished it happened more often. I brought the idea to the powers-that-be and they happily opened the doors to our own little space on the Public Theater Blog where we could let our brain cells play while offering a glimpse behind-the-curtains to theater audiences.
It's important to make these conversations - dare I say it - public because they won't do any good if they only happen in our little circles. We should be compelled to allow audiences into our world. To share what we feel works and doesn't work in this business based on our experiences. To respond to issues raised by other blogs and writers. To expose, as it were, the inner workings of what being a playwright is like. And, sometimes, to just bitch about things that annoy us. My hope is that the EWG blog sparks conversations, makes people ask questions, and make changes, however small.
The EWG writers are a ridiculously diverse group from a wide demographic range. Some of us went to name schools, some didn’t major in theatre or writing, and some never even graduated. There are no commonalities in life experiences and upbringing. And of the 33 writers not one's style or bag is the same as another.
What I hope this blog does is put a little power into the playwright's hand without the need for a power struggle. Though we may write the words, as emerging playwrights we often play backseat rider to directors, producers, casting directors, and actors. We feel the need to staunch our urge to speak because we are worried about being the problem child in an industry where just getting a reading can be a trial by fire. We often forget that we do wield some power as the creator of whole lives, worlds and universes.
This blog is a remedy of sorts. A chance for us to talk. A chance for you to hear. A chance for a revitalization of an art form and an industry that we all have a deep love and affection for. So I invite you to read, to invite others to visit, to contribute to the conversations, and to be unabashedly and unapologetically honest in your responses to what we have to say. The EWG writers have arrived - and we have something to say to you.
Sevan, an NYC actor-playwright, is a 2011 EWG member. And he's a foreigner. His plays babel, Doon,Say Something and Narrow Daylight will have readings this fall. For more info: www.sevangreene.com.
This post is part of a weekly series from the Emerging Writers Group community of playwrights.The EWG is two-year playwriting fellowship at The Public Theater seeking to target playwrights at the earliest stages of their careers. In so doing, The Public hopes to create an artistic home for a diverse and exceptionally talented group of up-and-coming playwrights.