Last year around this time, Martin Denton, creator, editor and theatre critic of the New York Theatre Experience website, published an anthology of new plays titled "Plays and Playwrights for the New Millennium," on his own imprint, also called New York Theatre Experience. He then proceeded to distribute and market the book, placing it in specialty and chain book stores and arranging a series of readings. [Full disclosure: a play by this writer was included in the anthology.]
The enterprise went so well that, for 2001, Denton has put together a second compendium of new works for the stage. Titled simply "Plays and Playwrights 2001," it features dramas and comedies by nine unknown dramatists. It is available for purchase at http://www.nytheatre.com/nytheatre/play20001, and will soon be accessible on the Internet from Amazon.com, B&N.com and in independent and theatrical bookstores throughout the United States.
This new volume includes the following titles, most of which were seen Off-Off-Broadway during the 1999-2000 season:
Washington Square Dreams by Gorilla Repertory Theatre
Fate by Elizabeth Horsburgh
Velvet Ropes by Joshua Scher
The Language of Kisses by Edmund De Santis
Word to Your Mama by Julia Lee Barclay
Cuban Operator Please by Adrian Rodriguez
The Elephant Man—The Musical by Jeff Hylton and Tim Werenko
House of Trash by Trav S.D.
Straight-Jacket by Richard Day
De Santis' Making Peter Pope was seen in the 2000 anthology. Otherwise, the other authors are making their debut in the NYTE series. The "Plays and Playwrights" series was born of critic Denton's wish to save some of the worthier Off-Off-Broadway plays he was reviewing from obscurity and artistic death. Keeping a mental tally of the productions he had especially admired, he later asked the playwrights for permission to publish them in a volume (the writers were paid in free copies of the resulting book). Readings of selected plays at Drama Book Shop, Applause Books, Barnes and Noble and other stores, helped to garner interest in the title, which eventually returned its investment, paving the way for a follow-up collection. Denton hopes to make "Plays and Playwrights" an annual event.
Denton hopes that the publication of the volume will result in further productions of the selected plays. The formula has worked: two of the plays featured in the 2000 edition received new mountings. Plays and Playwrights 2001 is a trade paperback, 319 pages, and has a suggested retail price of $15.00.
—By Robert Simonson