I am a playwright, pure and simple. I write 'em so that others can change everything by deciding for themselves what I really meant and how to make it better--thereby leaving me to look stupid for all the wrong reasons. If they'd only learn to leave my work to speak for itself, at least I could live with looking stupid for all the right reasons.
Playwright pure and simple, not averse to taking up any of the other roles if the opportunity presented itself. At the moment, with a full time, somewhat exhausting day job, I can't really apply myself to anything else much besides the writing and submitting.
I am a playwright. I cannot and do not wish to claim to be anything more. For me, that is more than enough (or awesome enough, if you prefer). I leave the rest of it, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse, to the others who specialize in the things that I don’t.
Theatre, and the beauty of it, is in the collaborative process. It’s the nature of it. It’s what it is. We are all parts of a collaborative process, and when it’s firing on all cylinders, it’s a thing to behold.
Another pure and simple playwright here (heavier on the "simple"). I'd love to self-produce and even produce the works of others (knowing full well the struggles most of us go through trying to get things produced). I just don't know the first thing about it. True, that hasn't stopped some producers, but still...
Early in my career, I produced others work and produced one of my own works all with help from others. All have been satisfying, though none made any money, but all productions advanced my overall professional career by people seeing my work as director, writer and my prime job as an actor. In that sense it really did make me money overall. And it also was exhausting and most enjoyable. Producing brings you into encounters with a myriad of people in and out of theatre. I'll never forget a wonderful conversation I had with a New Jersey boat seller when I had to rent a canoe for a show in NYC. And with NYC city garbage men on "strike nights." So many other encounters, as well. I got one of the major NYC theatre publicity directors to work almost for free because she was enthusiastic about one of the projects. Producing is like being a cop, you have to ask a lot of questions, and you have to solve the problems.
And others involved in the show were directly helped in the advancement of their careers with the productions. One actor eventually became an artistic director at a premiere theatre, one of the writers is a top book editor, one of the actors is a top classical music booking agent, one is a wonderful teacher of acting. One is a producer of major corporate shows and events. One stage manager is a premiere Broadway stage manager. Every little step along the way led to something else, though, believe me, we didn't always notice it at the time! At times it was scary. Still is if you are willing to risk.
One young crew member became a Director of Photography in LA. One became an editor in LA. One of my scenic designers won an Emmy in the last few years. Another scenic designer, whom I hired as a young assistant while he was in high school - as he said "You gave me my first job...for free!" - is very well known in NYC and throughout the country and has a show running in NYC now. And all of us are still very close or still in touch, but not so much with the LA people. Got together with two of them last night.
And... one brilliant actor became a sad drunk and has fallen off the face of the earth.
Overall, they have done better than me! But I recognized talent when I saw it. And that is key to producing.
I also had been a House Manager for 2 years in a small theatre, and toilet cleaner, and publicity person and scene painter and all the other attendant things. Ah, the complete experience of theatre!
House management taught me the most important thing in theatre is to make sure their asses are comfortable and that the bathrooms are clean, refreshments are fresh, and the ambience/cleanliness in the front of the house - no matter how humble the venue - is just as important as the play on the stage.)
On a small level, producing takes one enthusiastic person with a good idea and many others whom he/she can coax into wanting to help. I have always been respectful and grateful to everyone, and all involved got some form of recompense for their work.
I recommend producing to everyone. At least once. The most important thing producing teaches is all the elements of the ENTIRE EVENT of theatre. It is not just the play when the curtain rises. It is EVERYTHING. From the expectation when the audience leaves their homes, how they are welcomed to the theatre, to even how they leave the theatre is important.
On a small scale, it does not take a lot of money to make it happen. Mind you in NYC, "not a lot of money is relative." But, even in NYC, one of my shows was produced at a terrific venue by a young company several years ago. They bargained and haggled and it was great. They broke even. (I love that phrase, "Broke even.")
One key to producing for young theatre companies is a lesson I learned from this particular young company. In every show, they would rotate as producers. One producer per show. Then they broke down the other responsibilities.
Mind you, I wish I learned that earlier. But I was not a member of a company. I did it on my own.
At times I consider producing again, and have come close to it. We'll see. When you do it independently, you have a harder time finding the right project that you want to spend a lot of time with.
One other thing, and take this as encouragement, it is amazing how many people want to help even in a small way, when they are asked.
I would say your reading counts as self-production, as long as it is a reading for a public audience, not just invited friends, and in a public space, not your living room. That is a different thing for feedback from friends and is a logical step as well.
I think it is terrific you are trying to do a reading. If you have questions, post them and we'll all see whether we can share our experiences to save you from wasting your time on non-essentials.
Shaking the Dew from the Lilies, my first produced full-length play, had a committed director, but no producer. It was either take on the job or wave bye bye, and as I had done a lot of fund-raising for Africa and local development agencies, I thought I could tackle it. You'd be surprised how similar those two things are.
Since then, I think I'd have to say I'm more active as a producer, than I am a playwright, having gone from producing my first play, to be the Artistic Director of a production company with a board of directors and cool stuff.
I'm a playwright [if only one production to name and I couldn't even get to it] and I act. I inherit the theatre from my maternal grandmother. I did produce and direct a reading of one of my own plays and, boy, did that stir up some internal thoughts about where I go from here. I don't think I would ever not write, though.
So this suggests another category.... But certainly writing is pre-eminent.
I am certainly considering producing my own [and others' plays]. I'm trying not to think too seriously about setting up a company [I live in regional Australia]. I'd like to do it, but have to take the fact that I'm in my 60s into account - whether I've really got the energy. But, because of serious family health stuff it will all go on the backburner for a year or so, anyway.
But not the writing.... I wrote a one-act comedy after [but not as a result of] learning back in October of the terminal health issues we are facing - probably my best stuff yet.
I wrote and produced and directed a lovely little play this morning before 10a.m.
The twins are 6 years old tomorrow and I had my feathers all in a bunch as I 'm rather disorganized in this cold icy weather here in new England.
So apparently in America you supply snack time at school for the class (Kindergarden) Most parents just send in cup cakes (we call them fairy cakes) Anyway at 10p.m. last night I was talking to the bakery about the fairy cakes and ordered two dozen to be ready at 9.15a.m. this morning. Dropped the kids to school, tore around to the bakery, beautiful little fairy cakes. Then around to the Christmas tree shop, picked up some baskets, white linen clothes, stopped at the supermarket and picked up some goldfish in little cartons and individual assorted juices.
I get to the school before snack time and they buzz me in. They can see me struggle in the ice and they all come to help me with the baskets and bags. They I organised my baskets with the goodies in them and the staff were were all oooing and aaaing and how lovely this it and they hadn't seen this before.
I organised the fairy cakes on little trays I saw in the hall which they use for school lunches. So anyway between the jigs and reels, the secretary and another woman marched into the class room with all the wonderful goodies and all I could hear was the kids clapping.
My kids are unaware that I had to do all of this in their honor and before i even had a crumb to eat for my breakfast. The headmasater will call upon the class this morning to wish them a happy birthday which is a great honor for them.
So the kids for snack time today will have fairy cakes, goldfish, assorted juices and "Jack Daniels"
I just realized that this morning's production was only a rehearsal. Am I a tired old Momma bear"? Spent the afternoon as a set designer for the two hour matinee tomorrow. A cast of 10 and they are playing the Pirates and the Princesses. I built two sets. One for pirates who sit at the table and count all their "Gold" and treasures. Center piece is a ship . The other for the Princesses, pinks and glitter and the center piece a castle. Separate room s of course but Captain Hook intends to gate crash their castle with the other pirates.
Hoping I get some great reviews. The audience of course will be just sitting around watching every move.
I just read my wife all the threads starting from "KIDS LAST DAY OF BEING FIVE," who is theatre savvy and raised four kids (now all all grown) and she could not stop laughing through misty eyes!
And she just saw "Grey Gardens," the movie documentary two weeks ago (I had seen it in NYC when it first came out) the day before she saw it in a wonderful stage production at Northlight Theatre here in Chicago.
Seeing that movie in NYC on a vacation made me move to NYC to pursue becoming an actor. I remember consciously saying to myself and my friends, I did not want to waste my life in a dream, as did Edie. The power of ART, eh?
Years later I worked with Albert Mayles and told him that story on the set over lunch one day. He was quite moved. What a lovely man. He and his staff filmed like ghosts - or fairies -on the set.