There’s a very interesting article in the New York Times today about a play that essentially flopped when it was produced Off-Broadway in 2006 (losing all of its $800,000 capitalization) but has since gone on to be one of the most produced plays in U.S. high schools this year, knocking Will Shakespeare off the top spot, as well as receiving a slew of productions around the world.
It’s an interesting story and you can read it here. There’s a lot of lessons in what works (or doesn’t) in certain markets, and proves that a play can have a very successful life of its own even after it’s been hammered by the critics. Of course, there’s nothing new in stating that what works in New York isn’t necessarily going to fly regionally and vice versa, but this particular example of a phoenix rising from the ashes is quite unique.
It also did not escape my attention that one of the reasons for its appeal regionally and in amateur and school/college markets is that it can be performed by a cast of as many as 19 or as little as 4. “The Meta Plays” has a similar calculation (18 or 4, I think), and even though there’s probably a little more adult content in some of the pieces, I doubt any of what little there is would be enough to prevent these markets producing it (not to mention that the occasional swear word here and there can easily be substituted for something more palatable for the easily offended). So, perhaps this play collection has the potential to take off around the world and make me embarrassingly wealthy…or at least awkwardly comfortable. (Though I’d really rather not get a hammering from the critics in the process, if at all possible.)
Anyway, it’s already piqued the interest of one of the big publishers, so that may not be as far-fetched as I make it sound. In the meantime, I’ll be putting my marketing hat back on and see if I can make 2011 the year of “The Meta Plays!”