Dramatist in America: Letters of Maxwell Anderson, 1912-1958

By Laurence G. Avery; Maxwell Anderson | Go to book overview
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136. TO THE PLAYWRIGHTS' COMPANY

December 26, 1944

Dear John, Sam, Elmer, Bob, Victor and Bill:

There seemed to be some doubt in the minds of the majority at the last meeting as to where or why the Playwrights might lack anything as a producing organization. I have some dubious opinions on both sides of the question that I'd like to put on paper because I'll never get them said otherwise.

Our organization was a declaration of independence from producers. Nobody is happier than I am to be independent. We can write as and what we please, without fear of finding no outlet on Broadway; we have an organization that does its utmost to put our scripts on without compromise or falsification; our relations with actors and theatre employees are honest and fair; and we are in a position to talk to any manager or producer on a basis of equality. These are benefits no one of us would give up. When Sam talks to the Guild he does so from our secure emplacement. They know he doesn't have to have them unless he wants them.

But I can understand why he might want them. We have nobody in our organization who does the work of a producer. Victor is our business manager, the best there is. Bill handles our publicity, and he's the best there is at that. Either one might be capable of acting as producer for us, but they never have because that is not their status. John has been invaluable in holding us together, but he is a busy man, with interests largely outside our company. As playwrights, we do not act as producers for each other. A producer, good or bad, if he's a producer at all, puts his full time on the work. He's constantly on hand, and on call, working on scripts, casting, theatres, and the thousand and more things that go into making a success of a play. We read each others plays, and our advice on scripts is probably the best there is as far as it goes. But it's brief and sporadic. We hold brief, sporadic and hurried meetings. Somebody's always looking at his watch before we've covered all the major production problems that must be settled--and as for the minor problems, they are hardly dealt with at all.

What we need, and need urgently, is a production head, preferably a genius, constantly on the job of getting our plays ready

-193-

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Dramatist in America: Letters of Maxwell Anderson, 1912-1958
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