There is a serious problem with creating new works of theatre in this country; it's risky. Either you take a huge gamble and try to produce something off-Broadway. It gets some exposure and either triumphs or fails; either way there are huge production costs that go into it. On the other hand, you could be a smaller regional company with limited budget trying to promote a new play that isn't going to get much attention and the play is never produced again. Add the fact that audiences would rather see something classical or something they know - especially those who are not religious theatre goers.
The National New Play Network is attempting to give us a third alternative. Rather than one company producing one play and that is it, they have formed a series of companies across the country working together to produce new plays. For example, a play will get a run in Chicago, followed by Minneapolis, then Ann Arbor, and closing in Phoenix. Rather than isolated attempts, the play is spread across several cities over the course of three years.
The attempt is to create a national stage on which to premiere new work. With the support of a network rather than individual theatres the hope is that the plays will get more exposure and thus help the play or playwright to take off as well. All in all it is a program designed to increase awareness; for new plays, for new playwrights, for topics that are relevant now, and for theatre in general.
Side note: I find it funny that we look to existing plays and try to find the ways that they connect to our present situations. Rather than trying to express what we are feeling now, we look to the past to something that is similar to how we feel now.
Happy Birthday (July 19) Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893-1930)