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 Posted: Sun Apr 15th, 2007 12:58 am
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nic
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Mana: 
Does anyone else get as depressed as I do by the lack of courtesy in our business? I'm just reviewing my results from the November submission spree.  I submitted plays to 23  companies and received 14 acknowledgements that  they had arrived. To date I've had 6 responses to my work. All rejections by the way but what the hell.

 I must say that Tinderbox in Ireland and The Bush in London were the nicest  rejections one  providing some  useful feed back on the work and the other offering to do so if I wanted to hear it.

 Not surprisingly none of my submissions in my home country were even acknowledged but, they'll all tell you they're too busy to do that.

I know, I Know my wife says that I'm a cranky old bugger but at least I'm old. How  do newbies at this business stick at it?

 The best Nic

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 Posted: Sun Apr 15th, 2007 02:49 am
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Sam Stone
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Mana: 
Nic,

Bill Gates once said that if your successes are tied to your failures and want to increase your successes, then increase your failures.

My wife wonders where I find the enthusiasm to sent out one query after another when fewer than 25 percent even care to respond and fewer than two percent show an interest.  I tell her that I'm working on my rejection rate in order to increase my successes.

I feel that sometimes no response can probably be the best of critiques, AND depending on how long you wait to complain about, "No response," try to remember that most Artistic Directors are at least six months behind in their reading schedule.

Best o'luck - sounds like yours is much better than mine.  If you quit now, no-one will truly know how good a playwright you truly are.  Nobody is going to make your success for you - you have to do that yourself.  Patience and perseverance are true virtues in this business.

Sam

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 Posted: Sun Apr 15th, 2007 03:09 am
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Paddy
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Mana: 
Very nice, Sam.  Very positive.

 

Nic...I think you're doing better than I.  I, also, found the Tinderbox very playwright friendly.

You know...as a new-ish producer, it helps to know the other end of this business...and it's easy to treat playwrights the way I like to be treated.

Paddy

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 Posted: Mon Apr 16th, 2007 03:40 am
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katoagogo
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Mana: 
There's also the side of courtesy that allows for you to send a "thanks for taking the time cuz I know you get a zillion plays to read..." to the people who have signed your letter, if you've gotten a real signature.

They took your work seriously, and took the time to respond. Encourage the good sentiment with a kind word of your own.

--Kato

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 Posted: Mon Apr 16th, 2007 07:10 am
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nic
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Mana: 
See there you go all encouraging a cob ( cranky old bugger). I totally agree that when you get a response, rejection or otherwise you should thank the  writer for having taken the trouble to read your work and comment and  I take Paddy's point that  a playwright/producer is more likely to acknowledge the effort of a writer.

 And yes thanks I will keep submitting... as soon as I've finished  directing this show I'm working on but I have to say I do get tired of  all the.... we really haven't got time to read  new work... cries that we get.

 

The best Nic

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 Posted: Mon Apr 16th, 2007 10:48 am
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Sam Stone
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Mana: 
I agree with Kato that it would be nice to receive an acknowledgement for submissions and I always keep copies (whether hardcopy or electronic) of the ones I do receive.

Too often theatres have someone on the staff - possibly a volunteer - whose purpose is to file submissions.  Also, too often, these people aren't trained to even keep a list of the scripts they receive and just put the newest arrival on the bottom (hopefully) of all the others.

It would be easy for me to sit here in the corner of my home that I call my "office" and potshot at these guys but I try to remember that, most often, the guy I'm sending scripts to is wearing many hats and has a schedule that would drive me crazy.  I'm willing to bet most of them put in far more hours every day than I do simply performing the tasks of operating a theatre and, after that, try to read one or more new scripts.

Therefore, I keep sending out scripts (thankfully most are e-mail these days) and hope for a positive response.  Then I go out and tend the garden.  Most often the garden responds better than theatres but doesn't feed my ego nearly as well.

My best to all... Sam

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 Posted: Mon Apr 16th, 2007 03:39 pm
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in media res
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Mana: 
Sam kind of hits it on the head in all his perceptive comments.

For your psychological comfort, just imagine anything that can go wrong with your script submission will go wrong! A lot of theatres bite off more than they can chew. Most have little funding, and go on down the line. When you get any response consider it a blessing. Actually, nic, sounds as if the responses were good for you on a percentage basis.

I recently had a submission that went like clockwork. Received a timely acknowledgement of receipt. Received - to the announced date - that it was a finalist and - to the announced date - it did not win. This is very rare. But much appreciated.

Also, for that "cranky old bugger," as your wife describe you, remember most theatre companies are not run by old buggers. They are young theatre companies looking for young parts for their company members to play. (I would say young is under 35. For some companies under 30. For those starting out under 25. If they have actors who are in late 20's they can jump up to early thirties with no problem.) If you have an abundance of older characters in your plays, they may not even know of an actor in their circle who can play the part! More established companies will have access to older actors, partly because...well...they pay actors!

I have two plays I have written that in the casting note I describe open casting and how the play can be legitimately be cast with any age/any race.
I have only one short play that can also be played by "any sex." If you can do it and it makes sense, add that to your character descriptions.

In so many plays that young theatre companies' members had done in college, they were playing characters much older than they are. They are now eagerly looking - in new plays - to play characters their age so they can professionally showcase themselves as actors to agents, not necessarily showcase good new plays. They often look for good parts first, not good plays. (Agents usually hate attending them. Good rule for young theatre companies showcasing themselves: keep it brief. ) Good parts means lots of lines for them! (This is something I learned a long time ago from an older writer.) Sometimes it comes together for them. Remember, even their Literary Managers are young. And the Lit Manager can also be doing double duty as an actor...so you don't think he/she is looking for an old bugger in a starring role!?

But I have had plays done by younger theatre companies, and I was a young actor once. There is nothing wrong with this concept. That is how it works.

Everyone should rent the brilliant movie, "The Dresser" and see Albert Finney's delivery of the line, "Is there a part for me?" Every actor - no matter the age - laughs their tush off hearing that line!!!!! And writers should keep it in mind especially!

Usually for casting, it is easier for younger companies (as opposed to established companies) to find an older woman than an older man. This is just a fact I have noticed over the years. By older, I mean over 40!

So, keep submitting. Yes, we are enabling you!


best,

in media res

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 Posted: Tue Apr 17th, 2007 01:34 am
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Sam Stone
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Mana: 
Okay, here's the real question.

How many of us take time to thank a theatre for sending out a letter of rejection?

I feel that kind of response can encourage them to continue that practice.  I have never received a rejection letter that wasn't kind-spirited.

Sam

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 Posted: Tue Apr 17th, 2007 01:54 am
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nic
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Mana: 
Good point Sam and yes I always thank  the theatre company for  confirmation that a script has arrived and for any feed back, including rejection there after. It's just plain courteous as far as I'm concerned.

 The best Nic

 

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 Posted: Tue Apr 17th, 2007 01:54 am
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nic
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Mana: 
Good point Sam and yes I always thank  the theatre company for  confirmation that a script has arrived and for any feed back, including rejection there after. It's just plain courteous as far as I'm concerned.

 The best Nic

 

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 Posted: Tue Apr 17th, 2007 02:31 pm
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alan0198
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Mana: 
speaking from the other side of the transom, so to speak:  I acknowledge every script submitted to the Eileen Heckart Drama for Seniors Competition, usually via email; we had 500 scripts submitted this year.  The acknowedgement is a form email that I personalize slightly.  Takes about 10 seconds to do.  I'm continuously astonished at the grateful feedback.  It's so simple to note arrival of scripts, and takes so little time.  Now, of course, if I had to type a note as I would have had to to in pre-email days, that might be a different matter. 

Alan

Oh, and the Hekart Competition deadline was March 31st.  Hope to be able to announce semifinalists next month sometime, assuming that there aren't too many slow-to-respond evaluators.

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