There's a myth in this country that playwriting is an unlimited resource. That the number of potentially brilliant plays will always exceed the number of production slots. But as someone who has scouted new work for several nonprofit theater companies, I can attest that this is complete fiction. Good playwrights are rarer than fine wines.I want to address a couple of things McNulty does here. 1) He substitutes a myth with an easy cliche; and 2) he conflates two things that are quite different -- "potentially brilliant plays" are entirely different things than "good playwrights." And of course there's no rubric for his understanding of what potentially brilliant plays or good playwrights are, or what theaters should be doing to either stage these plays or nurture these writers.
I think my major beef with this paragraph is that it muddies two different approaches to producing theater. There's 1) focusing on product, and 2) nurturing talented artists. I would disagree with McNulty that a good playwright is as rare as a fine wine. But then I don't really think fine wines are that rare, either. But then our definitions of fine are probably different for both wine and good playwrights.
Regardless, GOOD playwrights are hardly rare. Good playwrights with a trunkload of plays that are ready to be produced on the nation's mainstages, now that's a different story. That takes work, and resources, and support.
Good plays aren't rare, either, but I don't think that every good play is right for every theater, and I don't think that a good play is automatically a play that deserves to be on the stages of large and small theaters all over the country. Potentially brilliant plays? Should that be the criteria for having your work produced? I don't know why he stops at "potentially brilliant," unless that's his way of being generous enough to allow work that's not actually brilliant to get his seal of approval.
If McNulty thinks that what L.A. really lacks are theaters willing or able to take risks on playwrights who have established themselves elsewhere (whether it's London, New York, or a commission at SCR), that sounds an awful lot like a local theater that lets other places do the heavy lifting. He can try to empathize with local small theaters and their struggles, but what kind of cultural capital are we if we're content to collect the scraps from the efforts of others who actually support writers and help them to build a body of work?