Since 2000, The New York Theatre Experience, Inc. (a.k.a. NYTE) – parent company to nytheatre.com – has published the Plays and Playwrights series, an annual anthology highlighting the work of new and emerging indie theater playwrights. The series, spearheaded by nytheatre.com founder, editor, and chief reviewer Martin Denton, has regularly been ahead of the curve in spotting new talent and boasts an impressive alumni list that includes such indie luminaries as Taylor Mac, Qui Nguyen, Chad Beckim, Kirk Wood Bromley, Trav S.D., Matthew Freeman, Chiori Miyagawa, Ken Urban, Marc Spitz, Kelly McAllister, Frank Cwiklik, John Jahnke, Josh Fox, Kevin Doyle, Saviana Stanescu, James Comtois, Ashlin Halfnight, and dozens more.
On the eve of the publication of NYTE’s newest installment, Plays and Playwrights 2008, I asked Martin (who is pictured above) to talk with me a bit about the new anthology, the Plays and Playwrights series, NYTE’s Play Publishing Program, and how he goes about doing it every year. Here’s what he had to say:
First of all, let’s start by talking about how you first thought up and started the Plays and Playwrights series.
I have told this story a lot, but here it is again. Sometime in 1999, Rochelle [Denton, NYTE’s Managing Director] and I saw a show called Are We There Yet? (it was at the old Synchronicity Space in SoHo, now home to The Culture Project). The playwright was Garth Wingfield. As we were leaving the show, I said to Rochelle, “This was a really terrific play, and it’s a shame that it will just disappear after its 16-performance run is over. Someone ought to publish it.” Or words to that effect. So, many months later, I suddenly remembered what I’d said, and I said to Rochelle, “We should publish a book.”
So the real impetus was, and remains, to try to capture permanently some of the great work that’s done in small theatres in NYC that would otherwise be lost.
How do you choose the plays each year? What qualities, if any, do you seek out for the book?
We did two non-series books during the last year and a half – Playing with Canons, which is a very big book of adaptations from classic literature and drama, and Unpredictable Plays, an anthology honoring Mario Fratti on his 80th birthday. Those two extra projects have kept us good and busy in the short term.
But we’re always thinking of new stuff. When something is firm, I will tell you!