Monday, November 09, 2009

It's Not in the P-I - Features - The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper:

The play traces some structural weaknesses of the newspaper business; putting the play together revealed some weaknesses in the theater business.

The fateful drinking session between Paulson (the science reporter) and Mullin (the playwright) happened on March 26, 2009, about a week after the P-I closed. Mullin and Nichols quickly assembled their team of playwright-reporters and hoped to cover the story, in Mullin's words, "with something approaching the speed of journalism."

Five days after having the idea, Mullin began approaching the bigger theaters around town, asking if they were interested. "This project is the best kind of local theater," he says (in another bar, as it happens). "Theater for, by, and about the people of Seattle." But nobody could commit to turning the production around fast enough, not even on their smaller secondary or tertiary stages. "The big houses will never say no," Mullin says. "They'll take meetings with everyone and say yes to everything—they're fucking Hollywood now—but then they'll let a project die the death of a rag doll. I'd love to premiere this show with the same professional talent the show was written by. Of course, nobody's getting paid. But we're playwrights—we're used to working on stupid passion and alcohol."

"The big houses were very gracious and unequivocally praised the piece, but unfortunately as institutions they are piloted like supertankers," he wrote. "They can't make a turn unless they plan to do so a year ahead. We were determined to treat this project like journalism, not history. It's sad that Seattle's biggest and best-known theaters cannot respond to what's happening in the community."