Teaching Drama

Teenagers and the Great White Way


The above was a tweet that I saw recently and it got me to thinking. Does Broadway need to figure out young adult? Is it the job of Broadway to think about, be concerned with, care about Young Adult? Could that ever happen, would it succeed? The musical 13 lasted just a couple of months on Broadway in the 2008/09 season. Spring Awakening (which I must confess I hated. Haaaaaaated. I found it so manufactured rather than organic.) addressed a younger crowd and lasted 888 shows from 2006 to 2009. I will say that when I saw it, I did not see more youths than adults in the audience. They used the “audience on the stage” convention and everyone on stage was decidedly “old” (a group I include myself in).

But Spring Awakening is not the type of show that the tweet above is addressing as it’s certainly not hopeful. But then again, why does a YA play have to be hopeful? And what does hopeful mean? Does it mean naive? Does it mean optimistic? Does it mean energetic and enthusiastic? Why must YA be attached to that particular word? As I type this, and I consider these questions, I think that no….I don’t believe that YA must be defined by that word. I’m not sure that’s the most interesting word, or the only word. And let me be clear, I don’t believe in the apocalyptic opposite either. I don’t believe the world of the teen is all darkness and angst. And I love, love, the energetic and enthusiastic side of teens. It makes me insanely happy.

But I’m thinking as a writer, in that to be hopeful is not a word of conflict. And I don’t mean fight, I mean theatrical conflict. The thing in the way of a character getting what they want. So actually I’m not sure I want to see a hopeful musical about teens on Broadway. So is that the reason there wasn’t been on Broadway yet? Because it’s not theatrically interesting?

And then there is always the problem of cost. So what about it? Can we say, oh it’ll never work because Broadway costs so much? A group of teens would never be able to get together and go to a Broadway show? Except, teens go to concerts. They will pay for that, why won’t they pay for Broadway? Good question.

What do you think? Is Broadway missing on out a market that spends money? Will Broadway ever cater to the YA market?

About the author

Lindsay Price