Anne Hamilton/Hamilton Dramaturgy


Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Indie Theater Now

Hamilton Dramaturgy is very lucky to publish this exclusive article by Martin Denton. It will also appear in ScriptForward! #27. Thank you, Martin!

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Indie Theater Now

by Martin Denton

Indie Theater Now (ITN) is an online service that presents and preserves new American plays in script form. Our vision is to be both comprehensive and inclusive. ITN is kind of like a traditional review/preview site, but on steroids: Instead of simply just writing ABOUT a play that excites us, we share the full text of that play, along with dynamic, continually updated content that provides background and context—e.g., podcasts, interviews, reviews, videos, photos, etc.—created by the playwrights themselves as well as other artists and ITN staff. In this way readers can discover the work more fully, wherever they are, at their convenience.  It’s also kind of like traditional play publishing, but on a massively larger scale (i.e., hundreds of new plays published per year rather than a few dozen) and at comparative warp-speed: the “Now” in Indie Theater Now reflects our ability to publish work days, not months or years, after its initial presentation on stage.

I started nytheatre.com 16 years ago in order to share my excitement about drama in general and many amazing but underrated/unappreciated/unknown new plays in particular. Playwright Kirk Bromley once said that nytheatre.com was “an engine of enthusiasm for the art”—a phrasing I particularly like.

I think of Indie Theater Now as a much more robust engine – not just of enthusiasm but of genuine discovery; one that enables teachers, students, actors, directors, producers, and artists of every stripe, as well as those not involved in the theater, to experience the fruits of indie drama as close to first-hand as possible.

As I said, our vision for Indie Theater Now is to be inclusive, but without sacrificing quality. To that end, our curatorial policy is rooted in the notion of community. We publish plays by playwrights whose work we have seen or previously published, as well as playwrights whose work is recommended to us by those we have already published.  Because of resource constraints we do not accept submissions. Once a playwright is on the Indie Theater Now roster, s/he is invited to publish any produced plays – we think there’s real value in having many works by each of our playwrights, providing context and perspective for their individual styles and aesthetics, not to mention demonstrating their versatility and growth as artists.

Indie Theater Now provides opportunities for publication to playwrights who are at the very beginnings of their careers, as well as more mature artists. The “Indie” in Indie Theater Now reflects the importance to us of publishing work from the non-commercial sector of theater, which embraces and emphasizes experimentation, innovation, originality, and diversity of every stripe.

An important point about ITN, by the way, is that it is structured to provide tangible value for the playwrights published here.  This was always pre-eminent in our minds as we built the site: we wanted to ensure that playwrights would be paid for their work. The royalty is modest – 30 cents per digital copy sold – but the message it sends is significant – that this work has value and the artists who create it are being remunerated for it. We believe that as ITN grows and attains a customer base in the hundreds of thousands, our playwrights will start to see some serious money from the program.

Indie Theater Now has been around for a bit more than a year, and we’re extremely gratified by its success. We’ve published more than 480 plays that represent the work of more than 200 playwrights. One play was adopted as a required text in four different classes at 2 different NYC universities; while at Williams College, one professor established Indie Theater Now as a mandatory resource for students in his theatre class, requiring them to read a number of plays on the site for an assigned project. We are working to develop the adoption of ITN in academia, because as a source of mostly heretofore unavailable monologues, scenes, and plays, it provides a valuable resource to students and teachers.

Indie Theater Now is the culmination of everything NYTE has been working toward since we began operations back in 1996, and is the accomplishment that I am personally proudest of in my professional career.  I am excited to make this service stronger and better, and hope that all of our colleagues (playwrights, reviewers, theater artists) will work with us to build a lasting resource that will nurture, promote, disseminate, and preserve the foundational art created by America’s indie theater creators. If I can tell you more about Indie Theater Now, don’t hesitate to email me at martin@indietheaternow.com.

MARTIN DENTON is the Executive Director of The New York Theatre Experience, Inc., a nonprofit theatre services organization. He is founder, editor, and chief reviewer of nytheatre.com; editor of 14 play anthologies; and founder/curator of Indie Theater Now. Martin received an OTTY (Our Town Thanks You) Award for contributions to the community in 2008; and with NYTE’s Managing Director Rochelle Denton, he was honored with the 2008 Stewardship Award from the New York Innovative Theatre Foundation.

Download the article here: EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT INDIE THEATRE NOW by Martin Denton

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1 Comment so far
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Martin published my play, “White House Wives: Operation Lysistrata!” after it was presented in Planet Connections Theatre Festivity in 2011. He was “ahead of the times” with this remarkable publishing resource for independent new work. Thanks to Martin, Rochelle and many thanks to Ann Hamilton for posting this article!

Comment by yheyliger100




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