AMERICAN THEATRE

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IN 2018, A RECORD 495 ORIGINAL SCRIPTED SERIES WERE released across cable, online, and broadcast platforms, according to a report by FX Networks. And with the growing popularity of streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon (not to mention new players like Disney and Apple), a whopping 146 more shows are up and running on various platforms now than were on air in 2013. So how does peak TV relate to theatre?

Once a way for financially strapped playwrights to land stable income and adequate health insurance, television has since emerged as a rewarding venue for ambitious dramatists looking to forge lifetime careers as working writers. Playwright Tanya Saracho is the current showrunner for “Vida” on Starz. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is the series developer of “Riverdale” and “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.” Sheila Callaghan is executive producer of the long-running black comedy “Shameless.” Sarah Treem, cocreator and showrunner of “The Affair,” recently concluded the Rashomon-esque psychological drama in November.

To satiate demand for more content, showrunners have sought to recruit emerging playwrights to fill their writers’ rooms. It’s now common practice for them to read plays or spec scripts penned prior to a writer’s graduation.

Many aspiring playwrights have caught on, enrolling in drama school intent on flirting with virtually every medium under the umbrella of the performing arts. Several institutions around the country have become gatekeepers for the hopeful—post-graduate MFA boot camps bestowing scribes with the Aristotelian wisdom of plot, character, thought, diction, and spectacle before they’re dropped into

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