(If you don’t know what TRADE A PLAY TUESDAY is, please click here to read the guidelines and learn how to participate.)
This week, TRADE A PLAY TUESDAY (TAPT) celebrates its two-year anniversary. Except for a handful of Tuesdays, it has run every single week, and, every single week without fail, playwrights have shown up to trade plays. There have been close to 2,000 plays traded by nearly 200 playwrights, and many have gone on to be produced as a result of revisions inspired by the feedback received.
As TAPT continues, my only regret (other than not being able to read all the awesome plays myself) is that more playwrights aren’t involved. Two hundred is a drop in the bucket; as of this writing, Official Playwrights of Facebook is seven shy of 10,000! If we could get a tenth of those involved in TAPT, it would be a phenomenal thing. To that end, I ask again to help spread the word by liking, commenting on, or sharing the Official Playwrights of Facebook weekly reminder, which will keep it near the top, at least for the day; follow me on Twitter @donnahoke and retweet the weekly reminders (unlike with Facebook, favoriting on Twitter does nothing to spread the word); share the information with your playwright groups, on your blog, with your friends… continued word of mouth is the best means of growing TAPT.
Two years is a long time for TAPT to continue with little to no promotion; this tells me that it’s needed. Just read these birthday testimonials from playwrights (maybe you’ll recognize a name or two!); they not only highlight the practical advantages of having a ready resource for feedback, but speak highly of the community and relationships that have been fostered as well. I hope to see some Tuesday very soon!
TRADE A PLAY TUESDAY is one of the best things to happen to those of us who write plays. It’s so hard to be objective about your own work. It’s so hard to see the flaws. It is incredibly helpful to have another playwright read your work. I never like to submit a play until I’ve shown it to someone else and read their comments. I love how easy TAPT makes this whole process. I can’t always make it to my writing group. With TAPT, you get same day results without ever having to leave your house. Plus there’s great value in reading other people’s work. It teaches you to think critically, and to open yourself to new ideas and styles. And I’ve met some great new friends and colleagues. Playwriting is a lonely business and it’s nice to meet others out there doing the same thing. I highly recommend it.__ Mark Harvey Levine
TAPT has been a great help to me as a newbie playwright. It has given me valuable feedback from more established playwrights and allowed me entrance into a gracious community of artists. Comments have always been kind and constructive.__Matthew Boyle
I love TRADE A PLAY TUESDAY because I get a variety of fresh perspectives on my script, to see if the story I think I’m telling is the one coming through on the page. And it’s a great way to expand my network!__Scott Dixon
Happy B-day TAPT! I have only used Trade A Play Tuesday three times as it was intended, for 10 min plays. Playwriting is such a solitary activity out here in Kansas. In NYC, I had Village Playwrights every Monday @ 6:00 to read or hear a script for perspective and response. TAPT provides those much needed new eyes and ears. Importantly, I’ve used TAPT to make contact with other playwrights who offer to read longer works. In other words using TAPT as not intended. That has been extremely valuable and led to significant revisions of major work for me. I hope it exits in perpetuity. Its significance as a permanent resource cannot be overstated.__Tom Klocke
TAPT sharpens my skills when I’m critiquing since I always want to be as honest, caring, and helpful with others’ work as they always are with mine. And the immediate feedback? It’s awesome.__Sheila Rinear
TRADE A PLAY TUESDAY has been awesomely helpful and rewarding. The constructive feedback I’ve received has made me a much better playwright netting me several productions!”__Jeremy Holloway
Since discovering TAPT, I actually look forward to Tuesday. It’s a great way to get feedback on developing works (and give my poor, beleaguered friends-cum-readers a break). But what I really value is the opportunity to see developing works from playwrights across the geographic/age/gender/race/sexuality/etc. spectrum and learn from them. I’ve also found that practicing giving feedback has made me a better reader and helped me look more critically at my own writing. I’ve sent both pieces that have been accepted and rejected by festivals, and I’ve gotten useful ideas and critiques on both.__John Bavoso
I don’t write 10-minute plays, so my TAPT experience is limited to 10-page excerpts and one full-length trade that Donna did a while ago. The critical comments were intelligent, courteous, and helpful. I’d happily participate again, especially in a TAFLPT! When I worked in journalism, we used to say that that everyone needs an editor, even—sometimes especially—the best writers.__Pat Carroll
TAPT has done three great things for me. It’s connected me (via useful feedback) to other playwrights and their work, it’s pushed me to be sure I have something “finished” for Tuesday morning and, best of all, it’s gotten me more than one feedback exchange with the fearless leader, Donna herself!__John Minigan
I’ve used TAPT for both ten-minute plays and ten-minute portions of plays I was working on. In each case, my fellow playwright was able to note plot holes I had missed, identify weak areas, or confirm that I was on the right track. It’s really helpful to get a fresh set of eyes on a piece early in the process.__Cathy Lanski
Writing a play is a very personal experience; the work is done in the isolation of one’s imagination. The development process is full of errors, dead ends, false starts, terrible middles and bad endings. A play needs to be read and reworked. It’s a great help to have someone else, particularly other writers, read it and say, “this is what the plays says.” That kind of feedback is immensely helpful and important. TAPT provides an opportunity to get that kind of feedback.__Scott Charles
I wrote a 15-minute one-act play, “The Italian Prisoner,” in early 2015. There was something not quite right about no matter how many times I reworked it, so I decided to give TAPT a try! My TAPT partner, Jean Koppen, sent me very insightful feedback within hours—a window into what was missing, which was actually hiding in plain sight. One more rewrite and I was ready to send it off into the world. It’s had six productions to date, winning two best-of-festival awards. I’m a TAPT believer!—Paul Lewis
TAPT combines the best aspects of a good writers’ group in which everyone does the homework. It flexes my feedback giving and receiving muscles. I appreciate TAPT for the opportunity to connect with fellow writers; just last week, I received a play from someone I’d [been matched with] before, and it felt like being reunited with an old friend. I also appreciate it for the chance to take a play or a concept I’ve been wanting to try out for a spin and see what kind of response it elicits. I have it in the back of my mind: “Oooh, I wonder what they’ll think of this…” I also love to see what kind of plays I will receive, and how they might pair with mine. I’ve had the honor of reading and reflecting upon plays that reminisce about the romance and reality of fox hunting, rebels plotting the assassination of an African general, the men in a family trading quips and barbs before a gospel reading, a young girl thinking about her relatives’ fascination with guns, two parents deciding to kill their son on his birthday (this was a comedy), and a mother trying to deal when her young son makes his self-portrait particularly well-endowed. You never know what you’re going to get, and it’s always exciting to see what’s waiting in your inbox.
When I first mentioned the program to a friend, she said, “What an amazing idea! THIS is art and community.” I think that sums it right up. Happy to have found the community, excited to see the art that will follow.__Matthew Weaver
“I love TAPT, and its reality. I’ve had a few very useful responses to the scripts I’ve traded so far, and I’ll be back!”—David Copelin
Being relatively new to writing in the ten-minute play category, I was thrilled to find TAPT. The advice and feedback I’ve received from other playwrights has been invaluable and my ten-minute plays have been selected for several festivals as well as having won awards and been voted “Audience Favorite.” I strongly urge others to take advantage of TAPT; the play trade is a vehicle for developing your own talents in critique. And it’s FUN!__Stephan Deghelder
I never wanted to be one of those playwrights who didn’t follow guidelines to a T, but I mistakenly sent my play Making Some Noise to Players Theatre call for plays “Only in NYC,” [and] didn’t see that the playwright needed to bring their own production. When I got word that it was a semi, and they explained the process, I withdrew my play with many apologies for wasting their time. And the upshot is, they liked it. They really liked it. Waived the requirements, found a director and will be producing it. I want to put a plug in for TAPT because this is the first of two plays where I used this amazing service. And my feedback was incredibly helpful. And I did the change the play and I am sure that is a large part of its success.__Claudia Haas
TAPT is a fantastic resource for the new or experienced playwright because each week, no matter how strong or weak you feel your written piece is, you’ll get serious feedback on what made it “work” (or not) for someone else. I have improved dozens of manuscripts in this way; I’ve also found that my skill at critiquing others’ projects has grown by leaps and bounds, as has my knowledge of the craft of playwriting. __Martha Patterson
I have used TRADE A PLAY TUESDAY several times over the past few years. Although I work with a writing group, it is always good to get another opinion from someone I don’t know. Not all comments have been useful, but all have given me pause to think about my piece in a new way. Happy Birthday to TAPT and please keep it going. __Marj O’Neill-Butler
I’ve found TAPT to be invaluable, a way to get a second pair of eyes on a script. I almost always find something valuable in the feedback spawning another rewrite. It also helps me to determine if I’m going in the right direction, or if I need to go back to the drawing board. Also invaluable is to see what others are doing, and sharpen my own critical skills. It’s often easier to see what can be improved in someone else’s work than your own. So happy birthday TAPT, may you have many more.__Philip Kaplan
I’ve only had the chance to take part in one TAPT, but it was valuable. I thought my play was very well developed, but having a fresh set of eyes look it over found some flaws and ambiguities that I never would have caught. Other friends had looked it over before that, but having another playwright on board made it a much better final product.___Daryl Hrdlicka
“TAPT is a free, convenient way to get feedback on my work quickly. It’s fast, easy, and the feedback from my responders has always been useful. TAPT has given me the tools to rewrite a number of short plays that have gone on to appear in numerous festivals and contests. It’s a great boon for the playwriting community!” – Bella Poynton
The best part of TAPT is finding other lost souls like me—a couple much better writers than me—and sharing emails back and forth. __Arnold Shelby
Happy Birthday TAPT! Thank you, TAPT colleagues for your constructive, incisive remarks about my short plays and for kindly and appreciatively indulging my thoughts about your own. TAPT has helped me improve my craft and introduced me to fellow travelers, several of whom will remain lifelong friends.—William Duell
TAPT is a weekly reminder of the value of feedback on my works in progress, a chance for me to get a sense from a peer of whether what I’ve written engages or not. That’s the selfish part. But what really makes it work is the chance for me to read what someone else has written and to try and offer some useful feedback that will help the other person move forward with their project. My only critique is directed at myself: I don’t use it nearly enough.__Lawrence Aronovitch
It is nearly impossible to find astute, specified feedback on writing in any community. Every time I’ve submitted to TAPT, I’ve gotten useful, specific feedback, often resulting in continued communication with playwrights about our works! Two thumbs and two toes up!!__Andy Rassler
I like the sense of community. Although our craft may be a solitary one, the art of theater is collaborative. There may be a limited number of opportunities for production, but that does not make the community of writers competitive. We support each other by respecting the work of others, offering constructive criticism, and encouraging each other. No one, including Donna, gets paid, a lot of people give it their best effort, and it certainly makes for a more interesting and creative Tuesday.__ Ann Marie Shea
“Not only do I get the pleasure of reading other folks’ work, but I get some great feedback on my own, which has definitely helped me improve my own pieces. And having to put together (hopefully) astute feedback also makes me think more about aspects of my own work. Seems like a win-win scenario to me. Plus I get to make new friends in the playwriting world. TAPT rocks.__George Sapio
With a good play, there is always an unexpected twist. With TAPT, before I participated the first time, my expectation was that I would be able to get feedback on my work from a diverse group of people who actually knew about and had a passion for writing plays. Plus, I’d get to read a variety of different plays from playwrights I would probably never know except through TAPT. The twist came after participating; I began to realize that the true gift of TAPT was not the receiving feedback on my work, though that is always great. The true benefit of TAPT is reading a play and then having to express, in writing, your thoughts about a play. Not just that I liked or didn’t like a play, but what worked, what was confusing and why, why a particular line of dialogue didn’t feel right for a character. By embracing the spirit of TAPT and trying to give meaningful feedback to another artist, I found my own writing improved. It is one thing to read a friend’s play and discuss it with them. But putting those thoughts to paper in a coherent manner is something else altogether. So, thank you, for two years of TAPT. Hopefully, there will be many more to come. You have provided a greater service to the playwright community than you will ever know.__Ted Gettinger III
Oh, how I love TAPT! The plays I’ve read and connections I’ve made have really opened my eyes to the amazing work out there that may never see the light of day, and that I otherwise would never have the opportunity to read. Plus, the feedback from fellow playwrights is always insightful and raises questions that make my work better. TAPT is something I look forward to, whenever I can participate.__ DC Cathro
Congrats on two years! Your enthusiastic invitation to exchange and read short scripts stayed firmly on my radar. After retweeting TAPT for months and wishing and pushing myself to jump in, I was happily participated last fall. Best wishes to you and to all who extend a few hours, heart and help to companion playwrights!__Judy Goss
No matter how “successful” a writer you are, you’re never fully sure if what you just holed yourself up in your crawl space to write is consumable or not—especially short plays, which for me tend to be a little left of normal. TAPT has been really useful in getting immediate feedback from a unbiased source who could very well be that audience member attending opening night.__Gregor Collins
The quality feedback I’ve received this past year through TAPT resulted in rewrites that led to staged readings for two plays and acceptance into a theater festival before the year was up.__Ian Thal
Happy birthday TAPT! What a great resource! There’s nothing else like it around to get (and give) near-immediate feedback on new plays and play ideas. I’ve gotten great critiques on quite a number of my short plays, and I’ve been able to incorporate many of the suggestions to improve my plays. The quick turn-around format means that feedback is timely and focused on essentials.__Anthony Pelham
I love TRADE A PLAY TUESDAY! I have always received insightful feedback from writers who know their stuff and have something to say that improves my work. Also I learn by reading the work of other playwrights. This is a great service!__Elaine Alexander
IF YOU’VE MADE IT THIS FAR, I hope you’re convinced to jump in this Tuesday, or next, when I will be trading plays from the comfort of and at the whims of the WiFi on Amtrak, on my way back from New York and a City Theatre reading of a ten-minute play, “Survival Stategy,” that I put in TAPT in November 2014. Spread the word and hope to see you soon!
Playwrights, remember to explore the Real Inspiration For Playwrights Project, a 52-post series of wonderful advice from Literary Managers and Artistic Directors on getting your plays produced. Click RIPP at the upper right.
To read #PLONY (Playwrights Living Outside New York) interviews, click here or #PLONY in the category listing at upper right.
To read the #365gratefulplaywright series, click here or the category listing at upper right.