Yesterday we refuted the notion that the number of new plays and new musicals were on a precipitous decline over the last thirty years.
Today we’ve got a couple more graphs for you, but this time we’re looking to find the revival trend line. Are they increasing? Decreasing?
Before you scroll down to find out the answer, take a guess. Revivals of musicals? Upward trend? Downward? Plays?
Ok, once you’ve placed your internal bet with yourself take a look below.
Here is a graph of the number of Revivals of Musicals over the last three decades:
What do you see? Well, I see a little lift off since around, oh, 1997. The average for the entire thirty years is 3.6, whereas since ’97, it’s over 4.
If you remember correctly, that’s exactly when the trend for new musicals seemed to increase as well. Coincidence? I think not. What exactly happened then? Not sure . . . but I’ll do some digging. You have any thoughts?
Let’s move on to plays. Here’s the chart:
Not surprisingly, revivals of plays do look like they are on their way up (thank you limited-run-star-driven-revival, and this trend seemed to have started in around 90-91, earlier then other increases.)
So what do today’s and yesterday’s graphs show us? Well, the idea that new plays are on the downswing is a bit of a mirage, actually. They’re not, really. BUT they are the only genre out of these four that are remaining flat. We’re seeing some amount of increase in the number of new musicals, and revivals of both plays and musicals. But new plays are just kind of sitting there.
So how do we throw some gas on the new play graph? Reduce risks for new plays on Broadway (should all parties, from Authors to GMs to Lighting Companies to Theater Owners get lower rates on new plays versus old, convince stars to do more new plays as opposed to revivals (separate Tonys for acting in new plays?), lower prices for audiences of new plays?).
But the easiest answer is perhaps the hardest to accomplish. We need great plays.
And that means we need great writers.
If you want to see more new plays on Broadway then do what you can, support new and emerging writers. See more off-off Broadway shows. Donate to a kick-starter. Or if you’re a theatre pro, lend a developmental ear to someone that’s passionate about writing for the theater.
Because great artists are the best way to change the course of any graph.
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