Thursday, May 18, 2006

Selling flowers

Predicting what a production will be like when Annette hasn't even seen it remains a fraught matter, as some documents uncovered by this column (hidden on the internet) prove.

Australian playwright, Peta Murray's play Wallflowering (the Irish premier of which is at the Project next Monday) is set to be a film starring Christopher "Back to the Future" Lloyd. So naturally enough, the film's producers conjured up a little document for potential investors explaining the merits of this ballroom-dancing based romance.

Answering its own question "How Successful can this film be?" the producers offer for comparison how sucessful other films targetting the same market have been. These films include the J-Lo/Gere vehicle, Shall We Dance ($164 million, as you ask) Chicago ($239m) and Moulin Rouge ($176m). The producers also note that there are "currently 648,000 Internet sites devoted to ballroom dancing" as well as "27 million avid movie-goers in the US over-45" for which Wallflowering is conceived to be the perfect product. All of which, by the way, must be good news for the Irish stage producers, Tall Tales Theatre Company.

What is most fascinating about the producers' pitch, however, is that the reasons given for making the film are all related to the existence of a market for that film. That, presumably, is why most films get made, but not why most plays get written, or most theatre productions happen. Most, that is. But now, with the distressing arrival of Irish theatre productions, such as the Gate's Friel/Fiennes product, apparently designed from conception as Broadway money-spinners, are the days numbered when a play is written and produced because it contains something worth saying?

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