Figured I might has well post it for everyone in Milwaukee.
MILWAUKEE: SAVE THE DATE, MAY 15
The Dramatists Guild is partnering with the Milwaukee Repertory Theater for a panel discussion entitled Developing New Work, with artistic directors from Wisconsin theatres that produce and develop new work. The panel will be moderated by Christine Toy Johnson, a member of the Dramatists Guild National Council. The panel discussion will take place in the lobby of Milwaukee Rep's Quadracci Powerhouse Theater.
Panelists who have confirmed (As of 4/20/17):
Brent Hazelton, Director of New Project Development, Milwaukee Repertory Theater
Jennifer Gray, Artistic Director of Forward Theater, Madison
Suzan Fete, Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Renaissance Theaterworks, Milwaukee
Jeff Frank, Artistic Director of First Stage, Milwaukee
Ray Jivoff, Artistic Director of Skylight Music Theatre, Milwaukee
Jessica Lanius, Theatre Lila, Madison
C. Michael Wright, Producing Artistic Director of Milwaukee Chamber Theatre
Driving and parking directions here: https://www.milwaukeerep.com/Plan-Your-Visit/Directions--Parking/
The event is open to members of the Dramatists Guild, as well as to those who are considering membership.
The event is free of charge, but reservations are required. To reserve your seat, please email Cheryl Coons, Dramatists Guild Chicago Region Rep at firstname.lastname@example.org, and put in the subject line of your email: "5/15 Panel Reservation." Reservations must be received by May 1. You may also contact Cheryl to arrange for ride sharing (from Chicago), or for more information about the event.
Monday, May 15
6:30pm - 8:30pm
Milwaukee Repertory Theater / The Milwaukee Center
108 E Wells St
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Ok. I knew a lot of people on the panel, including a friend who produces mainly physical theatre, which is wonderful but doesn't need a playwright.
Most of the discussion was about playwright incubators, staged readings, outreach to "marginalized voices", collaborations with academic and educational institutions, playwright residencies, 10-minute playwright series, and other absolutely worthless activities punctuated with the Social Justice Buzzwords Of The Day. Thankfully, nobody recommended that most useless and predatory of creatures, the One-Act Play Festival.
The big issues - lack of venue, infrastructure, capital and (in my town) talent pool were not addressed.
Except by the director of the Milwaukee Rep, who in a wonderful moment, told a nice lady playwright that the best way to get her play seen was to produce it herself.
He also advised her of something that a lot of people don't know, that some theaters have a Literary Manager, who will accept scripts without representation by a literary agent. Those can be found on the web, and as more playwrights self-publish and more literary agents refuse new clients, may be a trend for the future.
Listening to some of the other companies on the panel, it soon hit me that for a playwright, one of the most formidable barriers is the Theatre With A Mission. If you don't fit the narrow criteria of their mission statement, undoubtedly a condition imposed on them by their donors and sponsors, you won't get your play produced there. For a playwright, the ideal theatre is the Theatre With A Mission To Attract An Audience, in other words, show business.
For me, the evening was worthwhile with an introduction to the director of the Broom Street Theatre, America's original hippie theatre. I've wanted to tour some of my productions there for quite a while, so it was an evening well spent.
I'm glad you took my suggestion and went to the Dramatist Guild meeting.
Self-Production can be very effective IF you work your ass off and get a PROFESSIONAL audience there. (The latter is 80% of the effort of self-production.) Takes as much time in promoting as you do in actual production. (I've done it when younger in NYC with very good success, and it is also very, very wearying. That is why I did it when I was younger!)
Produced in Dumpy Theatres but we took the time to clean them up and make them attractive. (What else are Set Desingers good for!!! A little paint and a broom and a mop and clean bathrooms can go a loooong way!)
And...Get this...I was offered a Broadway and/or Off-Broadway production by 2 different established producers. But, they wanted ALL the rights. I told them no. I needed to direct and 2 of the 4 cast members must be in the show.
It did not work out. Never regretted it.
But the play had some very good subsequent productions.
However, all of us involved in the original show went on to make very good, full-time professional livings, directly due to the Professional people having seen that show! 4 actors, the director, which was me, and the Set and the Lighting Designer.
One eventually became an Artistic Director at a wonderful Regional Theatre. Can this happen in Milwaukee? Hope so. Sadly, the Lighting Designer died within a year. He was the First Assistant to a Broadway Lighting Designer, who had won a few Tony Awards. We were all basically young and stupid...but we had drive.
First: if you self-produce you MUST KNOW you have a wonderful show and wonderful COMMITTED actors who can execute and produce the goods! And often, those people are NOT always your friends. "Buddies" will only get you so far. You must be realistic as a PRODUCER.
AND...If the only people who come to your show are your "friends and family"...you have failed. Miserably, miserably failed. So you MUST promote and target Professional people and a larger audience. It is a Pain in the Ass, but it must be done. (And remember if your show sucks, you are screwed. You will most likely not get a second chance.) So...it is a big risk.
You are ABSOLUTELY RIGHT about THEATRE WITH A MISSION. It may be fine for some, but it is usually a Pain in the "A double Q" for those who are in the audience and not involved in "The Mission." I've always called it "Club Theatre." If you are not a member of the particular club...it means nothing in the broader sense. Too much funding goes to "Theater With a Mission." It leaves serious all-around theatre people out of the Loop.
My Acting agents over the years and Casting agents friends would verify what a PIA it can be to attend a bad show. Usually they'd leave at the intermission. So you better be good. Sometimes they would find a terrific actor amidst the clutter/garbage of a terrible show, however.
Your second paragraph is pretty Spot On. Though not all are bad. If you get a production or reading - no matter where - you put it on your Resume'.
Some competitions can be great. People reading your resume' will never know if it was good or bad. But, they will know, YOU WON, and got a production or a reading out of it. People INVESTED TIME, MONEY AND ENERGY in your work! Good Theatre is Good Theatre. Period. Don't be snooty or haughty. NO matter where it happens. And any production or reading - NO MATTER WHERE OR HOW AWFUL - does give you something to put on your resume'. And it is a way to meet people. Which is important.
To advance, you must learn to recognize true talent...and most importantly have the INEXHAUSTABLE DRIVE. "Friendship be Damned." Associate yourself with True Talent. It means a lot of working your ass off...and sometimes losing a friend...but do it.