On Friday, I had the chance to meet with Laura Fisher and Jespal Rajdev, who with their co-founder Adrienne Ferguson, started an online marketplace called TreePress. I've known about TreePress since about this time last year, when the idea was in its initial stages. I've been watching the progression of the marketplace's offerings with interest, but my conversation with Laura and Jes really solidified in my mind that the entire concept behind their online presence is truly innovative and has the potential to shift the way theatrical collaborators find one other, particularly playwrights and producers and educators.
I would encourage you to visit the site and see for yourself, and watch how it develops over the next six months. That development and the articulation of their vision over time will do a far better job than I can at explaining exactly what will happen and how its happening. However, I do want to say that I'm #grateful to Laura and Jes for explaining the idea of RELEVANCE to me as a way to measure a play's worth, rather than simply relying on the play's quality, one of only several factors that might go into a play's selection for production. It's very easy for me or anyone else to dismiss a play based on my own impressions of what "quality" is, but there are lots of other reasons that a producer, school, or theatre might choose to do a play: cast size, distribution of lines, subject matter, message to the audience, etc. All of these factors play a role. "Of course they do," you might be saying to yourself, but I'm not sure that all of those reasons are necessary legible or conscious in the decision-making process about a play's quality. So I'm committing to thinking about a play's RELEVANCE rather than only about a play's quality, as that might help to create an overall clearer picture of why certain plays get produced and not others. There's power in making a gut reaction more legible. That's one of things I feel like TreePress is preparing to do really well.
For helping me to think differently and more openly about plays and their relevance, for sharing their ideas with me and asking me about mine, and for innovating in a field that desperately needs it (new play development), the founders of TreePress are the artists I admire for this week.