Creating big, epic dramas out of the history of the place where they are performed is an art form that has ebbed and flowed over the years. Traditionally, most efforts have followed the examples of Paul Green’s “The Lost Colony” on the coast of North Carolina, or Kermit Hunter’s version of “Unto These Hills” performed at the Indian Reservation in Cherokee. Oftentimes the model for these summertime dramas was attempted in places where it couldn’t work. But increasingly, newer models of production have sprung up which include the creation of plays in restored historic structures or other unusual settings and for shorter periods of time, or sometimes semi-annually. The challenge is to find the right play and the right production model for the circumstances. The fundamental rule of successful historic dramas is that substance precedes structure: the material for the play and the circumstances under which it is produced should determine the structure of the work and method of production, and not visa versa.
The creation of historic dramas is a wonderful exchange of information for perspective. The playwright arrives knowing little about the culture or events he is going to write about but is driven by an insatiable curiosity to read and to interview and to explore all aspects of the place that has entrusted their story to him. In exchange, he offers artistic perspective: the ability to see what is unique and important in that which has become familiar. The story uncovered has to be of broader significance and importance so as to draw people from outside the area. For most historic dramas to be successful, at least 80-percent of the audience comes from outside a 60 mile radius of the show. This demographic also creates the greatest impact for cultural tourism.
In the end, a successful historic drama evokes pride in the region and opportunities for young and old to work side by side with professional actors and directors. It is particularly beneficial when it attracts people to rural locations, drawn to a story they would never have known in a place they might not have otherwise visited.
For only the cost of my travel expenses, I will travel anywhere in the world to make an initial assessment of a potential story idea and to discuss the process involved in realizing the full significance of that story onstage. For more information about the commissioning of historic dramas, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Historic dramas written include: The Reach of Song, Streets of Gold, Home Again, Following Our Fannie, Transcendence, and Prayer of America.