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The Current State of Playwriting  Rate Topic 
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 Posted: Mon Jun 1st, 2009 05:29 pm
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Steve Patterson
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Mana: 
So, I'm not exactly a beginner at this playwriting biz--I've been at it almost 20 years, and have had productions big and small, won some awards, etc.  But for the last six to eight months, nearly every single script I've submitted has been bounced, and I've been comparing notes with other playwrights, and many of them, including well-established writers, seem to be having similar experiences.

Have other folks out there going through this sort of thing? If so, what do you think is going on?  The lousy economy and people afraid to take a chance with new scripts?  Theatres shifting to certain kinds of scripts or blowing off unagented work?  Sunspots?  Or maybe it's just that I was born under a bad sign, and if wasn't for bad luck, I'd have no luck all.

Anyway, I'm curious as to what other writers have to say about their experiences of late.

Scraping my self-confidence off the bottom of my shoe,

Steve

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 Posted: Mon Jun 1st, 2009 06:09 pm
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Edd
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Mana: 
Put it back on the bottom of your shoe, walk in confidence knee-deep, Steve,  You of all people have added to the confidence on the bottom of my shoes.

I've gone nearly a year with nothing, nada, zilch.  Then all of a sudden seven full-length productions since January--and I made more money this year than in any year in the past twenty years.  And, that's still with the exception of one theatre that went under still owing me twelve hundred dollars. Productions will happen to you when you least expect it, if my experience is any indication. 

Keep trudging, my friend.

~Edd

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 Posted: Mon Jun 1st, 2009 09:52 pm
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Steve Patterson
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Thanks, Edd.  As always, you're a kind gentleman.

S

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 Posted: Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 12:22 pm
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solarcirclegirl
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Mana: 
Well, if Steve and Edd are both having issues, I guess I shouldn't be too down on the fact that everything I send out is made of rubber. I don't know how they manage to keep those things on the belt long enough to scan them at the post office. It's a wonder it doesn't just end up bouncing around the post office scanning area for eternity.

Now I have I have my pre-coffee jokes out of the way, it's true that I am having issues as well. And I have friends in other genres who are having problems getting anyone to look at their work.

It could be the economy. I am thinking that's really the only big shift I can think of. But it's enough for a person like me who is just starting to send out plays for review to make me wonder if I was doing something wrong.

But I guess I'm not.

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 Posted: Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 01:35 pm
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Proboscisbunny
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Mana: 
It could be that, with the economy, people are less apt to take a chance on anything new or daring...don't want to piss off the people who finance things...

I had two plays turned down for production, both sexual in nature and both received glowing reviews from the producer!

So that's what I'm telling myself :)

Vanessa

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 Posted: Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 05:26 pm
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shirleyk
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Mana: 
I've learned not to reflect too much on the current state of play writing. Day after day I write plays and send them out to as many different theater companies as possible. And I also re-write -- a lot. This is my job and fortunately I happen to enjoy it.

I don't think there are any shortcuts but I do think it helps to check out each theater company and learn as much about them as possible.

My goal is one production every month. Last year I got lucky and exceeded that goal. This year so far I'm on track but for me what really matters is the writing.

How many people get to spend part of each day taking people they've created on adventures? I think if we ignore the "play" part of play writing that's when it can get discouraging.

Shirley

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 Posted: Thu Jun 4th, 2009 07:23 pm
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katoagogo
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Mana: 
Well -- it's really more about the current state of production -- and just like the state of production of consumer goods is effecting communities on all levels -- the state of production of new work is working its way to playwrights' new work.

Just as old business models are being reworked or abandonned, the way to see your work produced is being re-formed as well.

While car dealerships are closing and companies are reducing staff -- think about this -- wouldn't an old car showroom make a fabulous black-box performance space?  There will be grant opportunities for repurposing spaces.  Instead of relying on the old production model, get in on the ground floor of writing the new form.

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 Posted: Thu Jun 4th, 2009 07:42 pm
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Steve Patterson
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Mana: 
A model being tossed around a lot these days is playwrights producing their own work.  13P often is cited as an example, and I know a number of playwrights looking at this option. Having been a producer for years (and having retired my producer hat), I'd just as soon have other people produce my work (and give me a check), but I'm aware of the current foul economic realities.

S

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 Posted: Mon Jun 8th, 2009 08:43 pm
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Steve Patterson
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Mana: 
Oh, seriously...if you care about this stuff, go check out the reporting at Parabasis, where they're blogging from the TCG conference about just exactly this topic: The Current State of Playrwriting.

http://parabasis.typepad.com/blog/

Disclaimer: keep a bottle of antidepressants close at hand.

Steve

 

 

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