Are new plays and new musicals really on the downswing? Part I
I read a quote recently which lamented the fact that there weren’t as many new plays on Broadway anymore.
At first, my head started a-nodding in agreement. It’s easy to jump on the ol’ “things aren’t so good” whine-wagon. But then I wondered, “Is that really the case?” I know it seems like that, and maybe it is, but before I just start joining the pessimists club, let’s take a look at the statistics shall we? Maybe the picture ain’t as gloomy as we think?
So, my trusty intern Kate and I, went into the season archives of IBDB, and simply counted the number of new plays and new musicals over the last three decades to see if we could find some kind of trend line, good or gloomy.
Here’s a chart of the number of new plays on Broadway since the 1982-83 season through today:
Well? What do you think?
Seems to me that the sweet spot of new plays is between 10 and 15 (average of the 30 years is 12.77), and actually there isn’t much of a swing in either direction, or a downward trend line. Although we don’t jump over that 15 mark much, and we have sunk below the 10 line a few times, it seems to be that we’re sort of consistent. (Note to self: if ever I see a season where there is more than 15 new plays being produced – see if there’s another season when I can do my show.)
So in the modern theatrical era (what I call the 80s to now), we’re not doing drastically less new plays.
Now, let’s check out the same stats for new musicals:
To quote an Xmas Carol, “Do you see what I see?”
After a downward trend in the first part of the decade, there’s actually a slight upward slant since 1997 (average of the entire three decades is 9 and since 1996, the average is almost 10 . No coincidence that this is also when Broadway grosses started an upward trend as well.)
So, the picture ain’t so bad after all. And that means, Pessimist club? You’ve got one less member.
While sure, it’d be great if we could produce more new plays and more new musicals, we actually have a real estate issue (see this blog) and a audience development issue (our attendance has been relatively flat – see this blog). But the good news is, we’re not producing less.
Tomorrow I’ll look at the trend for revivals. More Graphs! #GraphNerdAlert
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