RIPP #28: SUSAN LYLES, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, AND TOTO TOO

September 9th, 2013 donnahoke

 

 

If you don’t know what RIPP: Real Inspiration for Playwrights Project, is about, please click here to get some context before reading.

 

From SUSAN LYLES, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, AND TOTO TOO

 

“Our plays are never ones that everyone is doing. We focus on unpublished/unproduced plays for everything that we do. We are, however, a very small, incredibly underfunded company. Our actors are contract workers on a show-by-show basis, and our literary manager is also producer, director, costumer, publicist etc. We produce two works a year, and every single one of them has lost money. But we keep doing these new plays because we believe in the continuation of American theater. It’s funny how once a play has been produced, getting that second production gets a little easier. Words of advice: read the submission guidelines. It’s very easy to reject a play that doesn’t fit into a company’s mission. If you have a play that has 10 characters, don’t double them up to hit the six-character requirement as it just confuses the audience. Also realize that these requirements are in place for a reason: size of theater, budget being the main ones; large casts are expensive. Don’t give up on a piece that has been submitted; oftentimes, it’s in the maybe next year pile and gets revisited.

 

Two of our plays were in the maybe next year file for several years: Heads by EM Lewis, and The Feast of the Flying Cow…and Other Stories of War by Jeni Mahoney.  One was for four years, and one was for three; we were just not in a position to do them justice, either because of casting, budget, size or availability of space. We once had a play—Naked in Encino by Wendy Kout—that came in at just the right time to replace one that we lost, and within forty-eight hours, a contract was signed and we moved forward on it. Sometimes it really is a matter of timing.

 

Best advice of all: mail it and forget it. It’s a bit like money: if you loan it and it doesn’t get paid back you, you simmer, stew, resent, and make yourself miserable; if you gift it, then you let go and stay happy. If you get tired of waiting to have someone else produce your work, then produce it yourself.  We got tired of not seeing women’s voices in the theater so we started producing what we wanted to see.”

 

My nutshell takeaway: It’s all good here. Ms. Lyles really does what she says she does. I do have a little bit of trouble with her contention that having one production makes getting a second one easier, but I am thrilled that she feels this way, and would love it if her attitude spread… we need more producers who think this way, no?

 

The other thing I love is her advice to send it and forget it. I am a frequent submitter and when I’m done sending one out, I record it, forget about it, and move on to the next. If I were worried about responses and reply dates and following up on every single one, I wouldn’t be moving forward. When so many lines are cast into the ocean, it’s hard to worry about any given one. Worms may fall off the hooks, hooks may rust, rods may break… but as long as you keep putting lines in, you won’t even notice. And the best part of any day is when you get a bite.

 

Did you submit a play today?

Donna

 

 

Written by donnahoke

donnahoke

Dramatists Guild Council member and ensemble playwright-in-residence at Road Less Traveled Productions, Kilroys List and award-winning playwright Donna Hoke’s work has been seen in 40 states, and on five continents. Her full-length plays include THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR (Princess Grace semi-finalist, currently in its third year in rep in Romania), SEEDS (Artie award winner for Outstanding New Play), FLOWERS IN THE DESERT (AACT top 20 finalist), SAFE (winner of the Todd McNerney National Playwriting Contest, Naatak National Playwriting Contest, and the 2015 Great Gay Play and Musical Contest), and BRILLIANT WORKS OF ART (2016 Kilroys List, Winner HRC Showcase, Firehouse Festival of New American Plays, top ten Woodward/Newman finalist); she’s also authored more than two dozen short plays that have had hundreds of productions. Donna is also a New York Times-published crossword puzzle constructor; author of Neko and the Twiggets, a children’s book; and founder/co-curator of BUA Takes 10: GLBT Short Stories. For three consecutive years, she was named Buffalo’s Best Writer by Artvoice, the only woman to ever receive the designation.

Be Sociable, Share!



Leave a Reply