Some changes have been made to the Showcase Code! You can read about them here.
Movement on this front is good, encouraging, and welcome. Still, the extended weeks for rehearsal, with no change in hours, seems odd. I don't see how that will really change much for producers and actors who are working under tough time constraints anyhow. In fact, as Tim Errickson notes in the article, it will likely just be an extra budget item without a concurrent raise in the basic code's ticket cap.
The increase in budget, though (up to $35,000, exclusive of AEA stipends) does seem to accept the premise that "showcase code" productions aren't the sort of operations that the Code was meant to regulate, i.e. limited runs that actors would self-produce in order to get industry attention. If that message is getting through, more reform is definitely possible.
On the Seasonal Code front, there has been an increase in top ticket price (up to $25 from $20) and now companies can spread there 20 to 24 performances out over six weeks, up from five. This will help companies on the press front, and maybe gather audiences more effectively. With an extra week and a higher ticket price, that's a very positive development.
I'd love to hear readers' thoughts about this. This has been something I've written about often in this space. I'm extremely encouraged to see changes being made. I also don't see the changes here that could truly help New York's small theaters in a fundamental way. It's, as they say, a step in the right direction. Baby steps, perhaps.
Either way, this can't be seen as anything but good news.
UPDATE: I'd like to add that what it all comes down to, in the long run, is that we need more performances. That's the bottom line. Everything else is playing on the fringes of the actual issue. Obviously, all of the above is good. It'll help in small ways. But most of the main problems with the Code remain, even with these positive alterations.
UPDATE: Definitely read the excellent commentary here. Some of the comments seem frustrated and I can see why. Still, I think Nick Micozzi notes that there are some rather substantive roadblocks to true change. Reasonableness and patience are a virtue here. AEA seems to have some rather hard to turn wheels. The fact that they are acknowledging changing circumstances is a large concession to OOB.
- Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.