There are 1,120 playwrights, dramaturges (sounds weird), directors and other theatre people here. One thousand, one hundred and twenty.
So what's happening? Edd had his writing contest...there were less than ten that participated.
I've posted writing challenges, and although I've heard from a lot of people via email, few post.
So lets talk about what you all want. What you all need. Here is this beautiful place all set up, and very few are taking advantage. And yet...here is what I've learned from here. That having a writing exercise pushes you - oftentimes to write something you may not have ordinarily write. That some very good advice has been offered on these forum boards, probably resulting in better work. That friendships have been forged. Productions have resulted from people met here and opportunities posted.
Sometimes, I've noticed people join and immediately post a play...sometimes, a very long play. Imagine you are in a room. It is filled with playwrights. There are two things about this vision I believe do not work. The first, is if you walk into a room of strangers, an stand and read your work - expecting feedback. People don't know you. They don't have a taste for the kind of feedback to give you. They are pretty sure after you get your feedback, you'll leave - stage left. And usually - you do. That leaves the rest of this enormous room, filled with talented and creative people, sipping scotch, or wine - drinking coffee...but really, not engaged.
Can we change this a bit here? I could do a Sunday thing, if you'd want. I could talk about site-specific theatre/environmental theatre - I could talk about submissions and what works....cause I've done a lot of that.
What do you want? Is it good that you just sit in the shadows? Do you want to work on writing here? Could we pair up people to read each others plays and give feedback? Can we get better at sharing opps and resources?
How many times have you read a post and bit your tongue? Not commented?
Here, I would like to know what you think. All of you who read posts...and it amazes me - hundreds have read the post - one or two comments.
Let's here from you - here - now. What would you like? What would make this a better forum?
This is the craziest busy time for me...but I don't care.
I would like to see way more action here. Way more discussions. Way more interest in what other people are doing.
Thanks for your thoughtful inquiry. It will be interesting to see what it inspires.
As far as what do I find useful about the site --
I enjoy the "General" discussion grid best. It's the one that I check. I enjoy actual inquiries, announcements, and thoughtful responses.
I almost never check the "Critique Me" boards. The exception is if someone who regularly interacts with conversation threads posts something (either a work or a response), or if it has an amazing title.
When I decide to post an announcement or start a discussion I know that there are about 10 people I believe might be interested in the news. I post for them - not for the other thousand. I also try to post a response to anything someone else has posted that I find interesting - because a post with a "response" gets more traffic than a post left without a remark. Even just a small "thanks for posting" is cool - because it means that you're not just shouting into a void.
As far as I'm concerned, this forum is a small community of active members that is viewed by throngs. It's like having a private lunch in a busy restaurant - it's just us, but the tables nearby can listen in if they want to.
I always read for opportunities but also for challenges.
Your interesting challenges (for example, write a play with almost no dialogue) have been really helpful and I would enjoy more of those.
I like Edd's contests but the last time didn't do well about jumping through the hoops and my play didn't reach him.
As for discussions, I participate now and then but like many of you I don't have a lot of time. If what I might say on a particular subject isn't especially interesing or helpful I don't usually post but I do read and appreciate posts by others.
personally, i'm too busy with other projects to respond to writing challenges or contests here. i like to read posts, almost exclusively those in the general area but again, usually don't have time to respond or simply have nothing to contribute. i do like to support folks whether they're sharing a painful rejection or celebrating a hard-earned reading, production, publication or contest win. it seems there is a hard-core group here that keeps things going & lots of lurkers. i like to think i'm on the fringe of the hard-corers & i hope they continue to share with us.
A thoroughly commendable reveille, but I agree with everyone else. This is a great place to drop by, see if there’s anything interesting being discussed, hear news from people you e-know, find the occasional submission opportunity, and – if you have the time (which most of us don’t) – comment on something someone’s written. But other than that, this forum is something organic. You can’t goad or force it into being something it’s not (or wish it were).
Edd is by far the biggest contributor and commentator on this forum, and if it wasn’t for him, I’ve a feeling this place would have atrophied and died from irrelevancy a long time ago.
From what I’ve experienced and observed over the years, the best thing to get people talking on this forum is to pose an interesting question on the subject of playwriting itself, rather than questioning the nature of the forum and the motives of its participants.
My bookmark to this site http://www.stageplays-forum.com/recent.html shows me the most recent posts regardless of the categories and each time I visit I'll scroll through to see posts that have been updated or started since I last visited. I don't open all the posts, I hardly ever open the submission opportunities these days because I'm kept pretty busy as it is, though I realise that these are very important for some.
If the title of a post in the gym or critique forums intrigues me I'll go in a check it out. If it is good, I'll read it. Sometimes I'll comment, even on a first timers post, if I feel I have something to say that might be useful. Occasionally this is very rewarding (thank you, John Watts) but other times the OP hasn't even bothered to acknowledge the reply.
What do I want from the forum? Well I think the restaurant analogy is about right. We can't expect thousands of people to regularly contribute but for those who do it is a valuable resource for help and advice. Q&As about our business are always interesting, help with passages rather than whole plays might elicit more responses. The challenges are great! Paddy has got me out of the doldrums on numerous occasions and I think that Edd's contest could be a success again though I don't think there is any need to go to such lengths to preserve anonymity. We trust you to be fair, Edd. Lets keep it simple.
One suggestion, that you can ignore if you wish, is to have an 'off topic' section. One amdram forum that I belong to has a very active off topic area which helps people get to know each other beyond the mutual interest in theatre.
Anyway, we have to keep TPF going. It is too important to let it slide.
I appreciate your wanting to rev up the forum. I have to say, though, that I've gained so much from it the way it is and has been. Not only information about stagecraft, theater and writing, but I'd guess that close to half the plays I've had produced were the result of opportunities posted here. Most important, I've gained a couple of great friendships--with people I've never met! I really don't know how you can improve this forum. The way it is now--where one can pick and choose and come and go and participate or not--really appeals to the part of me that resists structure. Sorry I'm no help as far as suggestions, but I think you, and Edd, are doing a great job!
Recently I've been LURKING. Decided not to annoy people so much on the forumn because I know everyone around here are busy busy people So I dried up on my new play and went to another project.
I'm organising the First Bloomsday in DUBLIN_New Hampshire 16th June. I'm working with new best friends who are Joyce Scholars and artists out in the woods of NH. Great Craic. I've designed and made up the poster to be distributed next week around Peterborough and Dublin NH. Right now, today I am working on the booklet to be published for this "FIRST"
I swung by here just now to do a posting. Saw that Paddy had just posted to this General page and did not want to over post. what I was going to ask anyone if they were interested would they like to contribute anything to the booklet. I was thinking a poem or a 5/10 minute play I could publish or maybe a short Monologue. I was going to ask that it had to do with Bloomsday/James Joyce/Ulysses. Maybe a lot of people don't do Joyce but I thought it would be nice to ask my pals around here.
If anyone would like to contribute send me an email. I'm hoping to get the booklet done before memorial day
As many have said, we all have developed relationships with others on the Forum over time. I was a “lurker” for quite a long time, then I signed up. For me, it has been very rewarding. I began critiquing long before I posted anything. Just because I like to critique if I have the time, and feel I can say something that will help. I feel I have done this fairly often. A new member can especially build up a little credibility doing it this way. Then when one posts a short piece, there may be reciprocity.
I think making it VERY CLEAR to people on the sign-up page when they are registering, to advise just posting SHORT PIECES or 10-12 pages of a full length can engender more activity on critiques. It’s not that full length pieces have not been read here, but take it easy at first. If someone wants a critique further after that, they can also request more in a PM or an e-mail. And to point out to someone who joined the best way to get involved is by critiquing other’s plays first, before posting your own for critique. It is a way for people to get to know you. That is how it all seems to work unofficially now, but if there is no prominent guideline or suggestion, how will they know?
If someone gets all enthusiastic and posts a full-length piece and they get no response, that can truly disappoint and they may never visit again.
But, those same one-offs who come in quickly, introduce themselves, post a long play for critique usually vanish. So, no one wants to invest time in them, as they have invested nothing. If a first-timer posts a short piece, I like muncy, will comment if there is something I think that can help. But a long piece, fugedaboudit!
I also would suggest to newcomers to pst a bit about themselves - like their interests- in their profiles...like what state or country at minimum.
But what to improve the Forum? What I miss from the Forum are the “Forthcoming Attractions” where we had a guest in The Green Room once a month. If you read the the archived collection of the interviews on the thread, they are quite informative. Whenever I could attend, I did. If not, I would forward a question to edd or paddy for the guest, and read the transcript later. The, afterward, it allowed those attending to continue to chat in the Green Room.
I also remember, once in awhile, I or someone would post a green room social hour setting a day and a time. (Remember the time changes for Britons and Americans.) That was fun at the few I would attend.)
Also, I think there just aren’t as many people writing plays as we would like to think. Out of all those thousand who are members, how many are actually writing? Or submitting? Some are people who are just interested in theatre in some way, and that is great to have them. Some may just be shy. As you say, there are a lot of views of posts, but little commentary by proportion. Could be a lot of visitors. Sounds like the problems of any site to me.
Also, especially factoring in the current economy, I am sure many people are busier elsewhere where they MUST be to make a living, rather than where they want to be. People's lives are very busy.
I check in almost every day just to check in for anything new. I may not have time to post a comment. I critique others fairly often if I have the time and feel I can help. If I have nothing to say, I say nothing. Probably what others do, too. I have received a ton of help and encouragement from so many on my plays or sections of plays I have posted, I can not imagine not posting work and commenting if I have the time. (I just e-mailed John Watts yesterday to thank him again for a critique he gave me two months ago on a ten page writing sample. I told him how much that same advice has helped me knock off 2 out of the first 12 pages of a completely different play of mine resulting in a better 10 page writing sample.)
Also, once one has established some creative relationships over time, there is activity never seen on the public Forum via e-mail or PM’s, which are a direct result from the original meeting on the Forum. Obviously, you note, the Forum is getting traffic. Getting involvement is another matter.
And, have you noticed people on the Forum have been having a lot of good things happening for them lately, including myself. Something is good about the place.
I think I am a little laissez faire about it, like kris and spiny. And kato’s restaurant analogy is very good. Those who come, come. Those who don’t...well, they miss out. And, I always tell people in any group I am in, “Remember, 1/2 of 1% of us will do all the work. So, be prepared.”
Have you ever thought of running a small ad once or twice in The Dramatists Guild Magazine or the British counterpart?
I always want to be more involved on the forum. I find myself going in phases. I think it depends on what I am working on and that sort of thing. My work schedule is erratic, and with an impending (hopefully--keep your fingers crossed!!) move on the horizon, I am hoping things will even out a bit, and I can contribute more. I would definitely be up for a night and time kind of thing to gather and talk--I'm always up for that.
Recently I've changed my username from clouddog because of how embarrassing my posts were when i first joined last year. It wasn't without good feedback but my attitude was wrong - I come back now wanting to start again.