A conversation broke out on Twitter earlier this week, in response to a blog post (is that a squirrel chasing its own tail I see before me?), which led me here, to a small beer of a rant about an excrescence of language.  I speak of the dreaded appellation ‘emerging’ as it gets affixed to one’s profession.

Emerging playwright, emerging director.

The phrase began its life, I imagine, as a way to talk about artists who are quite literally emerging from graduate school, perhaps from internships and assistantship territory into making their own work, perhaps even emerging in the sense of finding one’s voice through earnest production trial and error.

It’s all right as far as it goes, but it starts to be frustrating somewhere around the fifteenth year that one is albatrossed with this adjective.  There also comes a day — or month after month after year after year of them — when emerging becomes a polite euphemism for “I’ve never heard of you.”

Maybe you haven’t.  But the world is big, and I’ve been directing lots and lots, lo, these many years.  I have been around a few blocks, even if none of them were at 43rd & Broadway.

Brandon Moore wondered tweetingly, “@dloehr @laurazam Meaning the school teacher who retires at 55 to take up playwriting might not be considered “emerging”? #2amt”  For instance.

We don’t have emerging doctors or emerging politicians or even emerging dancers.

Now it’s only entymology.  “What’s the harm?” you might ask.  It’s only grating and a trifle diminishing to talented playwrights and directors who have found their voices, who are perhaps established, diligent and working in their own small way, but who have yet to hit the big time.  The world (and the business) is cruel enough and no one is served by even a little bit more diminishing behavior or attitude.

Would it be more accurate to talk about early career or mid-career playwrights and directors?  What do you think?

  • November 9, 2011
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