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The Playwrights Forum > The Art & Craft of Writing > Synopses and Cover Letters > Achilles query letter

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 Posted: Thu Jul 22nd, 2010 03:59 pm
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generalizethis
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I am querying about my new full-length play.

ACHILLES tells the story of the contentious relationship between the Myrmidon hero-king Achilles and Agamemnon, king of the Argives and leader of the Greek forces in Troy.

Agamemnon, anxious to subvert all insubordination, decides to make an example of the indomitable Achilles and orders Achilles to hand over to him the prized hetaera Briseis. Agamemnon is none too pleased when Achilles, making Briseis more of a curse than a gift, happily obliges and loudly lets it be known that he will no longer fight for the Greeks.

After many military setbacks, Agamemnon offers Achilles his daughter's hand in marriage and a large portion of his immense kingdom as atonement for his poor judgement concerning Briseis. More offended than angry, Achilles will have none of it and only returns to the war after his friend Patroclus is killed by the Trojan Hector.

But bargaining for his son's mutilated corpse, the Trojan king, Priam, comes to Achilles with an offer that might change the course of the war to forever.

I have enclosed a synopsis and a ten page writing sample according to your guidelines. Thank you for taking the time to consider Achilles for production. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

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 Posted: Mon Jul 26th, 2010 02:43 am
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in media res
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Sent you a pm.

IMR

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 Posted: Mon Jul 26th, 2010 08:53 pm
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katoagogo
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My response to this letter is this -- why read/see this play and not simply read the Iliad?   The plot points you mention cover the entire span of the epic poem -- The anger of Achilles ending with the return of Hector's body.  Basically, you've listed the high-points of The Iliad -- but why would I want to read this particular play?  Why have you composed a play from this story -- and what specific events does it cover?

When the Greeks staged these stories as drama, they chose very specific moments to explore. Or are you attempting a tribute to the beauty of the scope of the Homeric epic?

Also - it is important to include a brief description about the scale of your production: how long is the play, how many characters (or actors to cover multiple roles), how many sets, what type of costumes... the basic production requirements that let me know right away if this play is something a theater could produce.

As you think about this letter, consider these questions: why do you believe this story should be performed as a play? - how have you made it performable as a piece of theater?  The letter is an opportunity for you to communicate your passion for the work and why it is relevant to share it as live performance. 

--kato

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 Posted: Tue Jul 27th, 2010 04:11 pm
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All wise counsel.

IMR

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 Posted: Tue Jul 27th, 2010 06:06 pm
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katoagogo
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I love The Iliad. 

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 Posted: Wed Jul 28th, 2010 05:00 pm
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Kato,

Me, too.

One of the great treats of having driven back and forth from LA many times is the great audio books I have taken as companions. One of the best was Derek Jacobi's reading of "The Iliad." Another was "On The Road" by Jack Kerouac. Brilliant recording by Frank Muller. Sort of a modern "Odyssey."

Prior to hearing Jacobi, I had read The Odyssey out loud by myself, and then followed up with The Iliad the next year before I had known Jacobi had recorded it. If you ever are on a long trip and you can find it...
though I think it may only still be in audiotape cassettes, not CD.

best,

IMR

Last edited on Wed Jul 28th, 2010 05:01 pm by in media res

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 Posted: Wed Jul 28th, 2010 05:47 pm
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katoagogo
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IMR:

Good to know -- thanks!

kato

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 Posted: Thu Jul 29th, 2010 08:29 am
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generalizethis
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John doe
111 Devon St.
Riceland, IN 21212
721-555-8243

7/27/2010

Kevin Jaredson
Executive Producer
Left StageTheatre
3434 Texland Rd.
Fairfield, IL 69876

Dear Mr. Jaredson,

Achilles is a five act tragedy set in Troy. It would be ideal for production in regional theatre and college campuses.

Achilles is driven by pride. At fifteen and his honor put into question, Achilles literally tears off his mother's dress and sets out to find fame in the Trojan war. Ten years into the war and his well earned honor defiled, Achilles sabotages the Greek war machine and leaves his countrymen to fend for themselves. After Patroclus' death leads him back to the front to slay Hector, Achilles has an existential meltdown and takes traitorous measures to escape death's encroaching footsteps.

The play runs 95 to 105 minutes, has two sets, and has a cast of six performing twelve parts.

If you are interested, I will gladly send you either select portions of the play or the completed manuscript. I have enclosed a synopsis and a SASE as stated in your guidelines. If you prefer, you can send an email. Thanks very much for your time and consideration. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,
John Doe




I think this wisely concentrates on Achilles and gets away from the relationship between Achilles and Agamemnon--the relationship's important, but Achilles is his own man and this is his play. I don't think I answered all your questions, Kato, but hopefully enough to show some contrasts with the Iliad. It would be impossible to answer them all in the frame work of a short paragraph--a paragraph that's only going to get shorter in the revision process. So if you have any suggestions, please keep in mind that I'm only going condense this further. It's bordering on too long as it is.

Thanks Kato and IMR for your suggestions. Tell me what you think and if you think we can get it tighter.

JB

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