Common Sense vs Conventional Wisdom

Talked to a physicist recently who said he didn’t believe in common sense. That got me thinking. Was he really referring to conventional wisdom? After all, isn’t common sense just a reasonable means to navigate our world? If that’s true, then common sense is something worth considering when making decisions. I would think. On the other hand, conventional wisdom might take you down a rabbit hole of outdated ideas that may have been considered reasonable a decade or two ago, but when taking contributing factors and changing times into consideration, may be best to chuck once and for all. Okay, so what does this have to do with theatre? A lot, I think. Conventional wisdom may tell you, if you want to get butts in seats, stick to the tried and true. Common sense, on the other hand, tells you to bring in new audiences, it might be time to try something fresh. Now, obviously that doesn’t throw out judgement. Choosing which plays to produce from a cornucopia of scripts isn’t easy. And who has time to read all those scripts anyway? No one really. And yet published scripts do go through a screening process. For every hundred or so submissions to Heartland Plays, Inc, six might make it through the first round of consideration and two of those a cover to cover reading. Conventional wisdom tells you that we can all achieve our dreams if we just work hard enough. Common sense tells you, not all writers share the same talents in the same ways and some people are just downright better at it than others. But back now to butts in seats. Some of those butts are aging. And some of those plays they loved watching over and over again have frankly run their course. Now, I’m not talking about Shakespeare. Hard to beat Shakespeare. Shakespeare isn’t seen nearly enough! I guarantee, though, that plays exist that you never saw before by playwrights whose names you never heard that are some of the very best plays you could stage if you just throw conventional wisdom to the curb. Surprise your audiences with fresh new plays this season. Trust your judgement when you read a play that common sense tells you, hey, this is good. Really good! I believe audiences will love it! Then take a calculated risk to stage that play. Calculated risk? Hmmm, let’s not go there this go round. That’s an interesting topic we’ll take up another time.