There’s a new trend emerging from many theaters. It’s called commissioning plays. Not only does it keep playwrights working, but it offers grants to theaters as well as giving theaters the opportunity to get a play that best fits the needs of their audiences and communities. While there’s a long history of some theaters commissioning new works, the trend seems to have picked up steam and is now reaching small theaters as well as the big regional houses. Considering that many theaters are making changes to their mission statements, it is a good time to commission shows that will benefit all of their audiences and communities. Some theaters offer commissions without specifying a topic or theme, but some do state what they’d like to see in a play. That can even include a particular character or characters. I recently spoke with two playwrights who have been commissioned, Jacques Lamarre and Jacqueline Goldfinger.
Most area theatergoers know Lamarre from his plays produced at Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury and Hartford’s TheaterWorks. Recently accepted by the Kennedy Center’s Playwriting Incentive, Lamarre was disappointed that the incentive would be virtual rather than traveling to Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center. “I’ve been commissioned to write plays three times,” stated the successful Connecticut-based playwright who has written many plays over the past 20 years. For Hartford’s TheaterWorks, he wrote “Raging Skillet.” for the Roberts foundation, he wrote specifically for a 50th anniversary celebration and for the Hartt School, a play for its 100th anniversary.