Yesterday, I listed the ETA’s most performed plays and musicals in high schools.
What surprised so many people about this list was that the play that topped even Shakespeare for the number one slot was Almost Maine, a play by the Maine-bred, very talented and oft seen on Law & Order, John Cariani.
The NY Times even wrote an article about the Maine phenomenon.
What is so special about this play being the most performed high school play in the US?
Well, for starters, you’ve probably never heard of it . . . because it flopped Off-Broadway in 2006 after running for only 67 performances.
As the NY Times article details, it lost its entire $800,000 investment.
What the NY Times article did not say was how much of that investment had been recouped since the play has become the most performed high school play in the US.
The article did say that Maine has done well for the author, which is fantastic news, because I’m a fan of John’s and hope that he writes another play soon.
But those author royalties would be buptkus if it weren’t for the original investors and if it weren’t for the original Producer (who, if this is a traditional agreement, won’t see any money until after the show recoups . . . if it recoups).
It’s great that the play has been able to support John over the years, and I hope it continues to do so. But there has got to be a way that these plays that flop in NYC but have long lives elsewhere can provide some support to the Producers, while at the same time returning as much money to the investors as possible.
The goal of the subsidiary royalty revenue stream for authors is to keep them writing, so they aren’t forced to take a day job.
Shouldn’t there be something similar for the Producer? Wouldn’t that allow the Producer to produce more often, just like it allows the author to write more often? And shouldn’t they receive something for launching the project in the first place?
There doesn’t have to be something similar, obviously. Because there isn’t one.
But that may also be why the crop of career Producers is so small.
Read Almost Maine here. See what all the high schools are fussing about, and support a new playwright (and hopefully a Producer) in the process.
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