The New York Times recently stopped running their accustomed credit box -- including the names of designers and other production staff -- along with their theatre reviews. Annie Baker, winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, organized eighty major playwrights who together sent a letter of protest last week to Scott Heller, Theater Editor of the Times.
It is uncommon to get five playwrights to agree on anything, let alone eighty.
The letter to the Times has, as yet, gone unanswered. Here it is, in its entirety:
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Dear Scott Heller and The New York Times,
We are reaching out because we'd like to talk to you about the recent elimination of the full credit box in your theater listings and reviews.
We playwrights are always mentioned in the listings and reviews. This is not about us. We think the stage managers and sound and lighting and set and costume designers we work with are just as important as we are when it comes to making theater.
These people are so often overlooked, even though our medium is, literally, coordinating moving bodies, in clothing, with accompanying sound, through light and architectural space. The credits at the end of the reviews and listings are often the only way designers and stage managers are recognized at all. And these people are real artists. They're not helpers. They're our collaborators. They're the show itself.
It's also important for your readers to be able to find out days, months, years later, who created the shows they saw and read about. There are so many theater artists who aren't writers and directors and actors whose careers should be followed and documented, regardless of the writers and directors and actors they're working with, simply because they make extraordinary work.
We need talented artists in New York City to continue to want to pursue these fields. And if they're unnamed and uncredited in the Times it's bad for all of us. Their names are as important to the future of American theater as the names below.
Please restore the original credit box to your reviews and listings, online and in print.
Jackie Sibblies Drury
Melissa James Gibson
Stephen Adly Guirgis
David Henry Hwang
Young Jean Lee