Audience members often ask about how a project is produced. Here's a basic overview of the process behind the stage production of The Christians by Lucas Hnath (2017), produced in association with The Pine Hill Project. Hnath is one of America's most notable new playwrights and was nominated for a 2017 Tony Award. With a recent, critically acclaimed track record in New York and at many theatres across the country, The Christians isn't just for Christians, despite its title. The inclusive story is compelling for believers and non-believers alike - and it's not only about faith issues. It had also never been seen in this market, so it was a logical choice for production. Employing members of Actors' Equity Association and other professional disciplines, the year-long process on The Christians involved several months of advance planning, to coordinate production rights, facilities and team, prior to the official contact time for the production process highlighted in the slideshow below.
Full-fledged Playworks productions like The Christians are generally produced observing the standards and practices of Actors' Equity Association, the national union representing professional actors and stage managers in the U.S., and The League of Resident Theatres, the largest professional theatre alliance of its kind in the U.S. Follow the link for a map and more about LORT member theatres.
There are many theatres in the U.S., professional and non-professional; LORT members are the leading professional resident, or regional, theatres. Because the economics of commercial theatre are often prohibitive (only 1 in 5 Broadway shows recoups investment), the non-profit regional theatre movement of the past 40 years was created as a relatively affordable producing alternative. Read more in these short articles, about the cost of commercial production, and the unusual relationship between commercial and non-profit theatre.
New scripts have a process all their own, apart from the one described above, as writers and creative teams develop the work often over long periods of time. The Playworks production of Lunch at the Piccadilly, for example, began in a series of sit-down readings. The musical grew and changed over four productions - all of them with markedly different scripts and songs. A prominent example of new play development is Oslo by J.T. Rogers, which won the 2017 Tony Award for Best Play. Oslo started its journey to Broadway at PlayPenn in Philadelphia, one of the country's leading conferences dedicated to new play development. Read about Oslo here.
Another development path for new material is by commission, through which a company contracts a writer or artists to create the work. The Christians was commissioned for Actor's Theatre of Louisville's Humana Festival of New American Plays, one of the most renowned U.S. new play conferences. Learn more in this short video interview with the writer. The vast majority of scripts and screenplays won't be produced on Broadway or in feature film. The Christians found its home not on Broadway but in productions among the network of theatre companies across the U.S. Each script has its unique audience; the development process helps a script find its path and its place.
See how projects have connected with artists and audiences.