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Where Emerging Playwrights Emerge From

In Friday’s New York Times, there was an article about the Steinberg Trust’s struggle to come up with a definition of emerging playwright in order to give such a person a lot of money. Is an emerging playwright young and fresh out of college or older, wiser, and more in debt?

Their three emerging playwrights varied in age, but they were all definitely very male. Then again, everyone knows that female playwrights don’t emerge. They stay hidden like lethal snipers camouflaged in the bushes and stealthily aiming at their targets until BANG!

This article was also of interest to the Dramatic Arts Department of Sunshine Jen. Down in the crawlspace, the Dramatic Arts Department (or DAD as they are affectionately called by everyone else) studies all things theatrical while trying to get as many free tickets as possible.

There are four employees in DAD----a dog, a cat, a dolphin, and a squirrel. Recently, a lot of money (as in thousands) was put into much needed upgrades on the dolphin’s tank, so now the dolphin can swim around while pondering postmodernism in the modern musical theatre. The dolphin’s paper on the parallels between Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! and Brokeback Mountain was both informative and provocative.

The staff of DAD have a great deal of affection and respect for each other although last year, the squirrel lodged a complaint against the dog who was constantly barking at him. Fortunately, the cat was able to mediate a peace between them. The cat was not about to lose her best Brechtian scholar (aka the dog) nor her expert on Balinese puppet theatre (aka the squirrel).

While reading the New York Times article, the DAD team decided to use it as a jumping off point to explore the question of where emerging playwrights emerge from. After a two hour brain storming session, they submitted their findings in record time, so now without much ado about anything else, here is the report from the Sunshine Jen Dramatic Arts Department:

Origins of Emerging Playwrights: Where the heck do these people come from?
By: The Dramatic Arts Department, Sunshine Jen
September 21, 2009

We have several theories about the Origins of Emerging Playwrights. We will begin with the most obvious then move into the more heady.

First, there is a huge assembly line at MFA Corp. On this assembly line, playwrights are assembled, disassembled, then boxed up with assembly instructions enclosed. Those instructions are quite simple. In order to be whole again, the playwright must write three plays---one about his/her parents, one about his/her love life, and one about something causey. If all three can be accomplished in one play over three hours long, all the better.

Second, even though all the staff members of DAD are mammals, the giant egg theory was tossed around the room. Basically, a playwright grows in a giant egg, and when he/she breaks out of the egg, a lot of gooey yucky stuff comes out too. The squirrel dismissed this theory as kind of gross.

The third theory was that playwrights are simply people who want to write dialogue without using he said/she said all the time. Yep, playwrights are lazy couch dwellers who don’t like to watch television.

Finally, the dog threw up his paws at the silliness of the whole question and exclaimed that playwrights don’t emerge from anywhere. They just are, and they’ve been here all along. The dolphin splashed in agreement, and the squirrel and the cat decided that the meeting was over.

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