For an explanation of RIPP, Real Inspiration for Playwrights Project, click here.
SETH ROZIN, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, INTERACT THEATRE COMPANY
“InterAct Theatre Company in Philadelphia produces a majority of new plays by less well-known writers. In the past ten years, five of the new plays that we produced essentially came over the transom. Tom Coash’s CRY HAVOC, Sherry Kramer’s WHEN SOMETHING WONDERFUL ENDS, and Spanish playwright Guillem Clua’s SKIN IN FLAMES all were sent to us by the playwrights with no former relationship. We liked the plays so much on first read that we programmed them in the following seasons. More recently, we discovered two new playwrights—A. Zell Williams and Mike Lew—through our 20/20 Commissions; while we did not award them commissions for their proposals, we ended up producing their sample plays—IN A DAUGHTER’S EYES (in 2011) and MICROCRISIS (in 2012).
My advice, for what it’s worth, is somewhat influenced by the findings in Outrageous Fortune: The Life and Times of the New American Play (which, while at times sobering and infuriating, is an essential read). I found much of what my artistic director colleagues said in the book to reek of denial and ignorance. I also found much of what playwrights said to be shockingly naïve and indulgent. But in spite of the great perceptual divide between the two, there are some things that playwrights can do to improve their chances of serious consideration. First, it is critical that playwrights do the necessary research to determine which theaters across the country are appropriate matches for your work; expecting a handful of the largest and best known theaters to read and respond to your work in a timely manner, let alone consider it seriously, is simply foolish. There are hundreds of mid-size and smaller theaters that are looking for great new plays and playwrights; find them through the Internet, look at their body of work and determine—with a critical eye—whether your work would be a good match. I would also suggest contacting the theaters’ literary managers to get a more nuanced sense of whether their theater would be receptive to your work.
The other thing I would recommend is to try to develop a relationship with the artistic director and/or literary manager of any theatre you can get to know in person. Go to see that theater’s productions. Attend their new play events. Introduce yourself to the staff. Invite them to lunch. The days of sending in envelopes with hard-copy scripts and waiting for replies is over. And electronic submissions, while much easier and cheaper, are inundating every literary office. Relationships matter. But it is imperative that you show genuine interest in the theater if you have any expectation that they show any interest in you.”
My nutshell takeaway: I wish I lived in Philadelphia.
Next post Thursday. And, as always, if you have a theater to tell me about or a story to share, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.