If there’s anything I’ve noticed, it’s that playwrights keep their marketing methods extremely close to the vest. I’ve often asked “So how did that production come about?” only to have the question ignored (sometimes repeatedly), or answered “Oh, I’m persistent,” when I want—what we ALL want—is specifics. My Real Inspiration for Playwrights Project (RIPP—all entries still available by clicking the link in the category list at the upper right of this page) offers loads of suggestions for how to make productions happen, but I have a feeling that playwrights read them and think they’re theoretical. THEY ARE NOT—I’ve gotten productions using those very suggestions. RIPP also sought to find cold submission success stories; I have some of those, too. So below I’m offering the specifics, total transparency; this is how I got every full-length production or reading I had or am having in 2015 (I’ve also had a slew of ten-minute productions, but those all came from cold submissions to calls for festivals). I invite you to offer up the same for yourself—but how many of you will?
SLICE OF LIFE: Springville Center for the Arts, Springville, NY, July
A director workshop/playwright in residence one-night only performance of eight of my ten-minute plays. Because I’d heard that SCA was interested in new works—and actually know a playwright from out of town who has been produced there—I started sending them things several years ago. When they got the idea to run a ten-minute play festival, they contacted me because I founded one in Buffalo. Ultimately, they decided they’d rather just do this director’s workshop with my ten-minute pieces, many of which the PTB here had seen locally.
ON THE ROOF: Buffalo United Artists, Buffalo, NY, staged reading, May
This play is set in a 1955 gay bar, so I contacted BUA, which has a mission of presenting plays with LGBT themes not only because I thought they’d be interested, but because I thought the audience they cultivated would enjoy the play. I was right on both counts, and the result was one of the most successful readings I’ve ever had.
BRILLIANT WORKS OF ART: Core Artists Ensemble/Barrow Group, New York, NY, staged reading April
Core had done three of my ten-minute plays in previous series, and I was fortunate to attend one of them while I was in NYC for the Fringe Festival. When the company decided to expand their scope to include full-length plays, they contacted a bunch of playwrights they’d enjoyed working with on the ten-minutes and asked for full-length submissions. From the plays they chose for readings, one will be fully produced next season–we’ll see. Either way, I had an amazing reading and overwhelmingly enthusiastic audience response. Through cold submission, this play was also invited to the Last Frontier Conference, and is a current semi-finalist for Playwrights First.
CHRISTMAS 2.0: Phoenix Theatre, Hormel Festival of New Works, Phoenix, AZ (in residence, one-week residency and workshop production) , March
Cold submission. I’d had a short play done previously, but as submissions are blind, I’m not sure how much that matters.
SAFE : Winner: Winner Todd McNerney National Playwriting Contest, staged reading; Winner Naatak’s Playwriting Contest, Santa Clara, CA, staged reading; Winner 2015 Great Gay Play and Musical Contest, staged reading
All cold submissions. All with prize money. This play already has three productions scheduled (one university later this year), and Road Less Traveled Productions—who will produce the world premiere in March 2016—is seeking partners for a NNPN Rolling World Premiere.
FLOWERS IN THE DESERT: Three productions! Elite Theatre, Oxnard, CA (March); Western Door Playhouse, Niagara Falls, NY (June); Actors Repertory Theatre, Luxembourg (October)
Elite: Cold submission to a call
Western Door: This is a local theater, and I got to know the AD, then sent some plays
ART Lux: Cold submission after “meeting” the AD on LinkedIn
THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR: second year in rep in Romania at Teatrulde Arta Bucuresti (ongoing), production at Dangerous Theatre, Denver, CO (March)
For the Romanian production, an actress found my play via the Internet, and asked for the rights. For Dangerous, I’d sent the play three years ago to another Denver theater, who thought it more appropriate for Dangerous and made the introduction. I checked in periodically over the years, and one day, I got an email from the co-AD who said he wanted to produced it.
As you can see, none of it is rocket science, top secret, magic, or luck, but many of the suggestions that emerged in Real Inspiration for Playwrights Project (RIPP) are evident, namely:
2) Connect with the people producing your plays.
3) Just ask!
5) Be persistent!
6) Don’t believe in the myth of premiere-itis.
To begin reading the Real Inspiration for Playwrights Project (RIPP) series, click here or select the RIPP category at upper right.
To check out this year’s project, click here or #365GratefulPlaywright in the category listing at upper right.