Thursday, June 30, 2011

Playwrights Urged To Unite In Protest

Ninety-nine percent of theatres who consider original, scripts or who sponsor play contests, stipulate that submissions must be previously unproduced--- in that one requirement laying down an insurmountable barrier to play development.
These theatres claim to support emerging playwrights, but they, in fact, do not.
Most play publishing services will not consider a play unless it has been produced multiple times. Most nationally recognized theatres will not consider a new play for their season unless it has been produced several times.
This is not an unreasonable requirement. Publishers and prominent theatres are looking for plays that have had multiple trials by fire and have come through those trials with all dross burned away and only pure gold remaining.
A serious playwright's goal, therefore, is to have his or her play produced multiple times, hoping to advance from smaller venues to larger ones, each time making those adjustments that will clear the dross and polish the gold.
How can this happen when almost every theatre or contest limits submissions to only those that have never been produced? If a playwright achieves production in one contest, boom, he is done. Under current standards, by winning once, he has eliminated himself from further production elsewhere.
The time has come to send a unified voice of reason to theatres and contests. I recommend that whenever you encounter submission requirements that allow for only unproduced plays, you send this letter:

Dear Theatre,
For a new play to successfully achieve publication, professional production, and artistic prominence, it first must be produced in multiple venues until it gains perfection and recognition.
When theatres limit submissions to only unproduced plays, they prevent further development of a script, and fail in their support of emerging playwrights.
On behalf of all playwrights, may I respectfully urge you to change your submission requirements to allow previously produced plays? Perhaps your submission requirements could say that only plays "previously published, produced by a professional theatre, or produced within 100 miles of" your theatre, would be ineligible.
In that way you would be supporting the multiple production development of new plays while still insuring that your theatre presents hitherto unseen material in your audience area.

If play contests and theatres that accept new plays begin receiving this request from playwrights throughout the U.S., they will eventually effect a change in their submission requirements, and developing plays will not be dead in the water after one production.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

This Blog Is Going On Hiatus

Frankly, there is not much that I can say that would be fascinating to others. I suppose I could treat this blog as a journal, but my daily thoughts and feelings go into the actual "works" that I write and email conversations I have with my friends, which are somewhat privileged. My journal entries would be something pitiful, such as, "Rain today. Planted radishes." So many experts say one must have a blog in order to sell books. Believe me, what I have been blogging so far--to 14 people who never check the blog anyway--is nothing that would sell my books. Nor, do I intend to write over and over again how wonderful my books are. So, this blog is officially going on hiatus until such time as I have fascinating things to say on it.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Frightened by my own inadequacies

Slowly over the past few months, I have written a narrative play titled SLEEPER. It wasn't as immediate as other projects, and so I picked it up and laid it down often, adding to it in random moments.

I finished it a week ago and laid it aside to let it gain a little distance. The manuscript sits in a neat pile, every day reminding me of its existence. I should read it now, and get to working on rewrites. Of course there will be rewrites and rewrites are always an improvement, but I am frightened of picking it up and reading what I have got on paper the first time around and discovering that it's no good.

I'm mostly a humorist. I usually write light, funny stuff. SLEEPER is not funny. Not only is it not funny, but I intended it to have an emotional build to a highly dramatic climax. Will my attempt to write something serious and dramatic proves to be inadequate? What if there isn't so much as a kernel of what I want it to be? Nothing there that even several rewrites could fix?

It sits there looking at me. I wonder if it's got any potential? I wonder when I'll get around to reading it.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Defining Discourtesy

I posted on Facebook recently, "Courtesy trumps all." The post garnered a number of comments from people who agreed with me. Without exception then mentioned that "please" and "thank you" always were best for people to remember.

That's certainly true, but I find that many discourteous people hide behind a smoke screen of please and thank you and get credit for being polite people.

The discourtesy I dislike has to do with what people actually do--or don't do.

I think I wrote about this recently, and I'm repeating myself. I'll have to learn to deal with it. Is dealing with it simply ignoring discourtesy, telling a person they're being discourteous, or shunning the person in the future?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Courtesy trumps all.

I think many of my friends fool themselves into thinking their friends are good friends.

Take, for example, a person who never answers emails or returns phone calls. Let's call him John Doe. When I express the opinion that John does not think much of me because he does not give me the courtesy of responsiveness, these friends will say, "Oh, no, pay no attention to that. He's really a nice guy, he just isn't good about responding to anyone's emails." I beg to differ. John IS like that. He doesn't bother to answer emails; what's nice about that?

Or take the lady who is habitually late for meeting with her friends, sometimes as much as 45 minutes. When I remark that she is not very polite and apparently has a low regard for her friends, I get, "Oh, no, Jane isn't like that, she's an extremely polite person; she just has trouble getting places on time." I beg to differ. Jane IS like that. She has no problem making friends cool their heels and wait for her. What's polite about that?

People like that get away with being discourteous because they have friends who insist they "aren't like that." Why are these friends fooling themselves? What people do is what they're like.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Who is the better man?

This puzzles me: Take two brothers, Pierre and Alphonse, both artists.

Pierre painted charming pictures of his picturesque seaside village, and sold hundreds of them a year for a goodly price to tourists. His charming paintings sold so well that over the years he and his wife lived in comfort in a nice home. Their children grew up and married and Pierre knew the satisfaction of using his painting income to help give them a start. Pierre finally retired to a comfortable leisure of fishing and taking his grandchildren to the beach.

Alphonse, on the other hand, refused to paint "charming" pictures for the tourists. He had a vision and he followed it on canvas after canvas--all unappreciated for their lack of prettiness and meaning. Undaunted, Alphonse painted his vision with a frenzy. He never married, never worked at gainful employment. When he was close to starvation, he crawled to Pierre's door, was taken in, fed, clothed and brought back to health, whereupon he would leave the stultifying bourgeoise atmosphere of Pierre's house to continue painting his vision.

They are both dead now. Pierre's grandchildren are prosperous, well-settled, and have fond memories of the old gentleman, whose charming paintings may still be found in second-hand stores. Alphonse has no grandchildren, but he has been discovered by the art world, and art dealers are making huge amounts of money selling his paintings. He is famous. Books are written about him.

Who is the better man? Are we judged by the life we live while we are alive? Or if our life was miserable, can all of our poor choices be disregarded if we leave a legacy? And what legacy? Pigment on canvas or loving descendants?

Now this is the true Joan thinking: Why can't the Alphonse's of life paint charming pictures half the day and "visionary" images the other half? Should a writer who writes advertising copy during the day and "the great American novel" at night, loathe the work that gives him heat, food and security to write at night?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What's help worth?

I was reading something today that reminded me of an opinion I have long held (also reminded me of a "what if?" situation for a novel plot) for some time.

You know when there's a death in the family or someone's been in an accident or in the hospital or some such, and everyone calls and says, "What can I do to help?" If things are not too bad and you can cope, of course you would rather do things yourself. But if you're really strung out, you grab for kind offers.

So you say, "Yes! Thank you, Helma, you can help! If I shoot you a list of telephone numbers, can you call all these people right away and tell them Uncle Henry died and when the funeral is? We have only two days until the funeral so they have to be notified right away. And can you ask Jim and Hank if they will be pall bearers? Thank you sooooo much!"

The next morning, after spending the night helping Aunt Minerva select a suit and take it to the funeral home and visit the pastor and reserve the church, you call Helma and ask if she had any trouble contacting anyone, and she says, "Oh, you know, I had to drive the girls to their ballet lesson and Herman got home late from work so supper was late and by then it was 9:30 and I thought that was too late to call, but I'll get on it right away this morning."

So at noon you call Helma (between ordering flowers, finding soloists, and contacting the Church Circle for lunch) and you ask her how it went, and Helma says, "Oh, my, I'm sorry, you hit me at such a busy time. I'm on it right now, though; I've set aside time."

You tell her forget it, you'll do it. Your voice is grim. And five will get you ten she is offended and says something like, "Well! That's the last time I offer to help!"

Something like this has happened to me several times and I've learned my lesson. Let people view me as someone who won't accept help from her friends; from now on I'm only accepting help from what? overachievers? true friends? non-morons?