Hoot! Trendspotting, With Quantification.

The Philadelphia Weekly article “Philly’s Homegrown Playwrights Enjoying a
High-Profile Boom” is an example of trend reporting. It reports that lately the number and prominence of playwrights in Philadelphia have gone up significantly.

The article written by J. Cooper Robb does this reporting admirably because its approach is measured. It shies away from uncritical boosterism on the one hand and carping criticism on the other hand.

The article achieves this measured approach in two ways. First, it sticks to the facts. It backs up its claim with data. When it claims that there has been an uptick in the number and visibility of playwrights in the city, the article identifies four playwrights and their plays. The article identifies which of those plays are currently in production in Philadelphia. The article also identifies which of those plays premiered in the city. And, to establish that there has indeed been an upsurge in playwriting in the city, the article recognizes that the city has by no means been without its homegrown playwrights or theater scene. Rather, as the article points out, what has happened is that a program that sponsors homegrown plays to be written and produced has recently come on the scene.
That program is called PlayPenn, and it has catalyzed local playwriting and theater production.

The second way that the article achieves this measured approach is by including a critical assessment of the trend. The article suggests that there is still a lack of support for local theater, notwithstanding the many institutions and talent that the city has. The article deftly offers this criticism within the context a quote from a local playwright, thereby—as the rationale goes for using quotes in journalism—offering an observation from someone that should know.

– Text by Charlie Chan. Image via Philadelphia Weekly.


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