The Broadway play Glory Days, about a group of high school friends reuniting one year after graduation, opened on Broadway on May 5, 2008. Then, the next night, it closed, proving to be the quintessential "one-night stand."
"The shuttering," according to Playbill, in a delicate display of measured understatement, "was one of the fastest in recent memory."
Needless to say, the folks at Glory Days could have used some help from the Edgerton Foundation and its New Play Awards.
The awards, which where were piloted in 2006 and directed by Brad and Louis Edgerton, allow productions extra time in the development and rehearsal of new plays with the entire creative team, helping to extend the life of the play after its first run.
That's right: They're the anecdote for the Glory Days Effect.
The foundation just announced its 2016 class of 15 winners, paying out a total of $580,000. The recipients are also members of the Theatre Communications Group (TCG), which receives a lot of ink here on IP. (In fact, our in-depth TCG funder profile just went live a few weeks ago.)
Inevitably the awards got us thinking, particularly around why a play can have a short shelf life. Scathing opening night reviews most notably come to mind. Or, quite obviously, the sad reality of an empty theater. Yet the foundation's grants pinpoint a far more prosaic culprit: time.
Or more specifically, the lack of time. Many promising productions simply need more time to work out kinks and find their footing.
So how does the foundation's support play out in a practical sense? Let's refer to Tony Taccone, artistic director of Berkeley Repertory Theatre and co-adaptor of It Can’t Happen Here. To hear Taccone tell it:
The funds allowed us to do two things: to conduct a one-week workshop with the entire creative team focused on the text, and to add a week of rehearsal before opening the play in September. The grant propelled us forward, giving us the resources and the time to shape our ideas, and the confidence to create a play that has the potential to make a difference.
Add it all up and the Edgerton Foundation has awarded $8,644,900 to 297 TCG member theatre productions across the past 10 years.
The foundation encourages theaters with a strong and consistent track record of producing new work to submit letters of inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org. A panel of readers reviews the plays and one-time grants (ranging from $5,000 to $75,000) are awarded.
And while we're on the topic of longevity, check out our take on the TCG's impressive efforts to support mid-career theater professionals.