Fellow Playscripts author Mac Rogers posted something over a half a week ago about the definition of an “emerging playwright”. It seems that Broadway authors, veteran playwrights, and even ringless Karl “The Mailman” Malone have been eligible for consideration as an “emerging playwright”.
Mac opined that “perhaps there’s many degrees of ‘emerging.’” Very true, but how do we measure those degrees?
Fortuitously, nature has provided an answer—by plaguing New Jersey with a swarm of seventeen-year cicadas. The cicadas spend almost two decades underground, feeding on root fluids and only “emerging” (See? We’re getting somewhere….) at the end of their lifecycle to fly, feed, mate, and die.
According to the University of Michigan, cicadas “spend five juvenile stages in their underground burrows,” corresponding to the who-knows-how-many phases a playwright might go through before finding his or her niche. Even after emerging, cicadas go through a “teneral” phase of maturation before becoming a full adult. This may correspond to the Octavio Solis’s of the world; playwrights who have obviously emerged, but haven’t hit superstar status yet.
By judging playwright “emergability” according to the cidada life cycle, we can have confidence that we are taking part in a sensible, natural process of play acceptance and rejection. The cicadas have given us a great insight into our shared art form. They will now spend the rest of the summer giving me nightmares.