If you don’t know what RIPP: Real Inspiration for Playwrights Project, please click here to get some context before reading. I have a feeling not everyone is doing this, as I keep getting emails from playwrights wanting to send me their plays or asking how to get produced which, again, is not the point of RIPP.
From MICHOLE BIANCOSINO, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, PROJECT Y THEATRE COMPANY
“Project Y has yearly themed reading series and a yearly contest with a call for video monologues. Both of these projects allow us to connect with new writers, writers who are new to our company as well as writers who are as yet unproduced in New York City. We wish more and more writers would respond to our video monologue contest series; we have built future relationships with many of the writers we met through the contest. When you hear the theme of our next yearly reading series, send us a play if it fits the series; if it doesn’t, wait until the next year to see if you have something that fits the next theme. Since we produce a lot of theme-based work, if your work happens to fit into a give theme in our year, we want to read it.
“We are looking for new and diverse voices as well as new forms of storytelling. We don’t read one page synopses of plays that are submitted to us; we read the whole play cover to cover. And we are a very small, volunteer company, so that is a huge commitment from us to whoever happens to send us a script. This means that it takes a lot of time to get back to playwrights, and on the flip side it should mean that playwrights only send us work that they think might be a ‘good fit’ for our style and aesthetic, as well as for our yearly themes. For example, this year we have focused much of our work on celebrating the 50th anniversary of Betty Friedan’s groundbreaking book, The Feminine Mystique, so if writers know this and submit things that make sense to our company mission and our production history, they have a better chance of receiving positive response from us. There is also nothing better than a personal connection—either meeting a playwright at an event or reading—or being introduced to their work from another playwright, writer, or actor. If a playwright I have worked with recommends another playwright’s work and sends it to me, I am already eager to read the new writer’s work. There is no better way to have someone want to read your work than to have another artist speak to your talent.
Know the theatre where you are submitting your play. Know the opportunities a given theatre has for new writers. Know that it’s easier to get your foot in the door through ‘calls’ for plays or specific needs of a theatre. Renee Calarco’s The Religion Thing was part of our Holy Cow! reading series and was such a hit that we have it planned for a full production in 2014! Helen McTiernan, a winner in our “Confessionals” monologue contest passed us a play by her friend, Tariq Hamami, that we chose for a future reading series. And after the success of Sean Christopher Lewis’ reading of Goodness as part of our Racey Plays reading series, we produced a workshop production at Under St. Marks.”
My nutshell takeaway: I have always had more success with submission that a part of something specific—like a reading series—and have a deadline than to any kind of open/rolling submission opportunity. Biancosino points out, and rightly so, that it is much easier to get a foot in the door with these kinds of opportunities and a foot can lead to a leg and whole relationship. But take note of the cautionary advice: don’t send if you don’t have the right play for a themed opportunity—not only will your play not get chosen, but you’ll be viewed as someone who doesn’t respect the mission, theme, or intention of a particular project and that could hurt you the next time around.
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Until next time,