How do you find this stuff?

by jenthorn

The Listener at MOXIE through June 29th

Aside from the thought provoking “how do you memorize all those lines”, the number one question MOXIE patrons have for us is where we find the work we do. Although they are asking HOW we find it, the implied question is why this type of imaginative work isn’t being produced at other more “established” theatres which should surely have the means to find and develop new work. Yeah…we were wondering that too. Is that to say that all other theatre are cowards and produce boring work? No…not all of them. That was snide. I apologize. The truth is that producing theatre is a risky business even when you are producing Annie…however it grows much more risky when it is a play that has no track record by someone nobody has really heard of yet. The more secure and “established” a company becomes, the harder it is to produce new work…or so it seems.

We aren’t naïve. One day we will have to discuss whether or not opening a season with a new play where the f-bomb is dropped 17 times on the first page is a smart business idea. We named ourselves MOXIE for just those moments. We hope we will remember that we can’t keep our name and produce the latest proven off-Broadway hit. That is not to say that we won’t have to discuss it though. We have already had MOXIE discussions where we debated whether we could do another play where chicks make out without getting put in a box as a “Lesbian Plays Only” company. I’m not afraid to say I was the voice of doubt and then that play slipped away into another theatre’s hands. BUT what I hope we never do is doubt a play based on it’s novelty or “newness” alone.

I still haven’t answered the question though. We find this stuff because we ask for it. Well Delicia asks for it. That is her main gig at MOXIE in case you didn’t know what an Artistic Director does all day. Delicia reads plays, calls agents, playwrights, friends at other regional theatre around the country and says “Give it up! Where are those kick ass chick plays with big imaginations?” Most people aren’t searching for work that way. They see what hit the cover of American Theatre Magazine and sold out at “insert city name here” Repertory Theatre and there it is. That’s smart business but we are trying to make smart theatre so we have to go about it another way.

Enjoy this excerpt from an email Delicia copied me on recently that she sent to a favorite agent who has hooked us up with bad ass work in the past:

“So, I need a play from your stable of kick-ass chick playwrights that is: Funny, smart, sexy. Something where magic or fantasy are a part of the story (i.e. Gibson Girl, Devil Dog Six). Where the world of the play itself is unique. Because it is our final play, I would prefer something not real dark. I’m already doing a play where a teenage girl befriends a guy (from the internet) who thought he was meeting a 12 year old boy. Happy stuff. So a little levity after that one will be appreciated by my audience. Even if it’s not real funny, I need something totally cool in terms of storytelling and characters. After three full seasons as a company, I have learned what we provide for San Diego no one else can touch. We introduce audiences to very interesting voices they have never heard. That is not to say that I may not be contacting you in future to do a Sarah Ruhl play or another Mary Fengar Gail play, but at this time I’m looking for a dynamite talented woman who no one knows. Or, a script like Devil Dog Six that no one else had the moxie to stage. Will you pretty please send me a small bouquet of scripts you think fit that bill?”

And the rest is history.