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August 27th, 2013 donnahoke


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




 “I asked Seattle-based playwright Yussef El Guindi if he’d like to submit a play to ACT for possible inclusion in the Icicle Creek Theatre Festival (ICTF), a New Play Festival with whom ACT partners.  Yussef sent me Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in the New World. I fell in love with the play and started to advocate for it with our artistic director, Kurt Beattie, who also really liked it. It won the slot at Icicle Creek in 2010. I went up to work on it as director with Yussef, and then we read it at ACT in front of an audience. It was a big hit, and shortly after that we decided to put it in our 2011 season.  


It’s definitely a tough business for playwrights, and writers in general.  I think I read some statistic a little while ago that said there are now more writers than people reading!!  (Don’t know how you determine that information, but it’s a scary piece of info, yes?)

I guess I’d recommend that playwrights research the theatres to which they send plays before they do so. Don’t just indiscriminately send your scripts off to as many companies as possible and expect that approach to bear fruit. Be more selective. Does the theatre even produce the kind of work you are writing? Have they ever?  Do they do new plays? Do they make all of their selections based on what’s been hot Off-Broadway? Do they produce local work? Do they workshop plays?  The more you know about a theatre, the better your chances of knowing whether your play is actually going to receive a thoughtful read, and maybe even a production.”


My Nutshell Takeaway: No new fruit—or nut—to bear here. Though Ms. Montgomery is espousing the perennial advice about knowing the theaters to which we submit, her story bears out the even greater and often unspoken truism: it’s who you know. Yes, El Guindi needed to have a good play to hand off, but he had to have the connection to be asked in the first place. So it is a success story, but not one that came from a blind submission. It’s a tough business we got ourselves into, no?


On another note, I’ve just returned from the Dramatists Guild Conference,Having Our Day, in Chicago, where this very thing was often a topic of discussion. But nowhere on earth will you feel more inspired to fight the good fight and keep on writing than among 500 playwrights who all understand that we really don’t have any choice. Keep your eyes open for information on the 2015 conference on the West Coast. It is not to be missed.


Until next time,



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