A Letter From Sam Hunter
Dear Friend of Playwrights Horizons,
A few weeks ago, while workshopping a new play at a theater in the Bay Area, I did a brief Q&A during a donor event. Someone asked me where, in my wildest dreams, I most wanted to have my plays produced. I think they were expecting me to say I’ve always dreamt of having a show on Broadway, or at the National Theatre in London, or, hell, all of my plays in rotating rep at the Sydney Opera House, why not? Instead, I answered honestly, and told them that I had already been produced at my dream theater.
Playwrights Horizons has found that rare and beautiful balance of being profoundly important and unwaveringly good.
Playwrights Horizons is, by all accounts, an important American theater. The evidence of this is not hard to find—the piles of accolades and awards, recent premieres of game-changing plays like Annie Baker’s The Flick, Lisa D’Amour’s Detroit, Anne Washburn’s Mr. Burns (I could go on)—and for all of these reasons, Playwrights Horizons is deserving of your support. But you know all of this already. What I want to underscore here is that Playwrights Horizons is not only an important theater, but an organization devoted to doing good in the American Theater.
An important theater gets noticed, changes the conversation, pushes the art form forward. A theater devoted to doing good does something more—it seeks simply and earnestly to support artists and their work, eschewing the false gods of the commercial transfer or the glowing review. A theater devoted to good takes risks and swings big, motivated only by their unshakeable faith in the value of the new American play. While it is so easy to lose sight of what is good in the pursuit of what is important, Playwrights Horizons has found that rare and beautiful balance of being profoundly important and unwaveringly good.
Most crucially, a theater devoted to good is populated by good people. Two seasons ago, Playwrights Horizons produced my play, The Whale. At the time, I was a relatively unknown playwright to New York audiences, and my introduction—a nearly two-hour intermission-less drama about the last days of a morbidly obese recluse—was by no means a safe bet. But from the moment I walked in the door, I was immediately at ease. From Tim, Leslie, Carol, and Adam to the production and administrative staff, I was surrounded by people who trusted me and valued my work. During that process, everyone at Playwrights showed me nothing but support and encouragement, and inspired me to work singularly on making the play as strong as possible.
This is why Playwrights Horizons is deserving of your support. I hope you will give a gift this year to my “dream” theater, the theater that I proudly call home. Give not just because they are important—but give because they are also thoroughly good.
Samuel D. Hunter
Playwright and MacArthur "Genius"