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The Playwrights Forum > The Art & Craft of Writing > Work-in-Progress > Submitting a play

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Submitting a play  Rating:  Rating
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 Posted: Tue Jul 30th, 2013 12:17 pm
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tragedian
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Mana: 
Haven't actively been participating in conversations although I'm here in a voyeur-ish spirit, reading all the forum cyber conversations.

I recently submitted one of my plays to a theatre and waiting to hear back (if at all, which is a common practice). In as far as the play submission policy, can I submit the play to other theatres, etc. while waiting for a response from said theatre? What is the general policy in as far as multiple submissions are concerned?

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 Posted: Tue Jul 30th, 2013 01:18 pm
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Paddy
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Oh, send the play everywhere. This isn't the same as submitting a book manuscript. Jeeze, plays would never get produced if the playwright had to wait for a response from the theatre. They usually don't respond. Ever.

Send to as many theatres at one time as you can.

Paddy

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 Posted: Tue Jul 30th, 2013 01:42 pm
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tragedian
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Thanks, Paddy. I'm still a neophyte when it comes to the play submission policy. So true when it comes to hearing back from theatres.

Another question if I may? What happens, say if multiple theatres want to produce a play (I should only be so lucky!)? Are there any good sites in which general information regarding play submission policy can be found?

Will definitely take your advice. Very much appreciated.

Last edited on Tue Jul 30th, 2013 01:44 pm by tragedian

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 Posted: Tue Jul 30th, 2013 01:49 pm
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Paddy
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It depends. If it's a premier, you can have them duke it out for it. Theatres love premiers. If it's been produced before - a lot of theatres have restrictions like - hasn't been produced in the state before, or hasn't been produced in the city, etc. Some don't want you to have a production - basically within driving distance of their production. Others don't have any restrictions. Just keep track, and if six theatres want to do your play, then you have six productions.

That being said, if it is a premier, then the rules of engagement are different. I would sugges, perhaps, when you send the play to a theatre looking for a never been produced play, you can say it has been submitted elsewhere. If you have a theatre that's interested, but it's not the one you were hoping for, I think a very short email saying so, and giving them the heads up is smart.

That is the only time I'd suggest emailing a theatre regarding a play you've submitted. It's not good practice to email a theatre asking about the status of your play - have they read it, etc.

Hope this helps.

Paddy

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 Posted: Tue Jul 30th, 2013 04:14 pm
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tragedian
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Points taken, Paddy, and will definitely keep them in mind for future play submissions. Your advice really helps.

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 Posted: Tue Jul 30th, 2013 08:23 pm
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in media res
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Good advice, Paddy.

But one does not owe a theatre anything until they contact you. You never have to tell them you are submitting other places. They assume you are submitting other places.

Every playwright has stories about being led on by Lit Managers and producers...then receiving a letter or e-mail saying Thank you so much, but we went in another direction." (Same thing for actors, by the way!)

So...have fun...SUBMIT AWAAAAAY. Just be careful to try to narrow it down so your play at least tangentially relates to the specs of a particular theatre. If they are looking for woman's plays don't send them a play about a bunch of guys sitting around talking. (Believe me this happens.) READ the specs about what they want. But two guys and a gal talking may just fit. use your best judgment.

best,

IMR

Anyway, tragedian, best of luck.

IMR

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 Posted: Tue Jul 30th, 2013 10:33 pm
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Paddy
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Good point, IMR.

I think it is very valuable to go to the website, and either look at their mission statement, or past plays to get a feel for what kind of work they are looking for.

Paddy

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 Posted: Tue Jul 30th, 2013 11:33 pm
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tragedian
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Thank you in IMR - and Paddy again - for your advice. I've hesitated over the years to submit plays lacking experience and not knowing the best way to progress in this area. I tend to be over-anxious, a common neophyte fault, in wanting to know the fate of the play. It's that long wait that eventually gets to me and the inevitable, "what happens if..." Now I know better. I do, however, make a point of checking web sites to get an idea of the type of plays produced and the mission statement. Your collective wisdom is much appreciated. Maybe at some point in the future I'll return here by starting out my sentence, "Guess what?"

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 Posted: Wed Jul 31st, 2013 04:58 am
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tragedian, and all playwrights,


To be brief:

Do you think anyone in the theatre, regardless of their position, is "an expert?" You know how many people have failed and continue to fail again just because they have the indomitable ability to bounce back from disappointment? Most successful people have done that.

I've NEVER met an expert in the theatre. Some are better than others is all I can say. And I've made a living as an actor for...well...a lot of years. You are as good as your last performance" is really the truth.

Again, one thing I know is, in the Theatre, no one is an expert. Some are more capable/much more capable than others. But none are experts. I assure you! I don't care what their position/title is. I've met people for whom I have high/very high regard. Some may say of them they are "experts." But, as far as production in theatre...never met one. All have had failures. All have had successes. And most people I know about whom people say they are "experts" would never accept the title! They are always looking for new ways to do things.

And, just so you know, the people reading your scripts at theatres change with the wind. They are often college kids, grad students, House Managers, young actors or even students or ushers working at the theaters. They are always moving on, which young people should be doing.

I know people who have been asked to read plays by theatres who should have quit the business years ago. They go through a lot of levels till they get to the Higher Ups on the food chain of a theatre no matter what their budget.

And, I am first to admit I am not anywhere near an "expert." But I know what is out there and what you are up against.

Markets change. Times change. Styles change. A play I wrote years ago, got rejected, rejected,suddenly gets attention. Times change! Many playwrights can tell you the same thing.

Submit your plays...unabashedly. if you get discouraged, let it be from your own experience, not from never having tried! Over and over and over again!

Take the heat. Pick yourself up. If you get some criticism, look at it, analyze it. Use what sounds good...no matter how much it may hurt your ego. If you by into what they say, re-write. Submit again. And...Write new stuff.

Best,

in media res

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 Posted: Wed Jul 31st, 2013 01:16 pm
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tragedian
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Very good advice, IMR. Sort-of a parent lecturing to his offspring on life, in this case, upon being a playwright.

I smiled when I read "and write new stuff!" advice having written a total of two-two act plays and one-one act play, plus a number of shorts. I've frequently asked myself if perhaps I have only three plays in me. However, I'll never know unless I find out.

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 Posted: Wed Jul 31st, 2013 03:04 pm
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tragedian,

No, no, no! Not parent to lecturing to offspring. I posted as encouragement, not lecturing.

Consider it as just a colleague sharing his experiences with another colleague.

This is the most important line in my post: "And most people I know about whom people say they are "experts" would never accept the title!"

The really good/great people I've worked with always welcome you into the fold of the creative process. They do not go around acting like "experts." They just get the job done by making the environment free for creativity.

Best,

IMR

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 Posted: Wed Jul 31st, 2013 05:34 pm
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tragedian
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Was written cyber tongue-in-cheek, IMR.

Really, you and Paddy have been most helpful and definitely encouraging. The purpose of posting and initiating a "submitting a play" topic was the feeling that there was a lot I didn't know and really should know.

Thinking further, I also have questions about formatting for a play, whether or not a playwriting program is recommended and if so, which one. Don't ask a lot, do I?

trag

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 Posted: Wed Jul 31st, 2013 09:23 pm
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I've always just used my own that I've concocted form my typewriter days. (Which means I curse a lot when typing!)

However, there are a lot of questions answered well about formatting on the Forum about formatting and prepared programs. Search around or just start a new thread with the question if you can not find them. There may be more current programs.

Cyber smile back!

IMR

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 Posted: Wed Jul 31st, 2013 11:44 pm
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playfull
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Sage advice IMR. Notes taken.

playfull

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 Posted: Thu Aug 1st, 2013 05:12 pm
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Wendy Onslow
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Well, this has been an eye-opener to me. I had no idea it would be all right to send to several theatres.Is this protocol accepted in Great Britain as well?

Wendy

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 Posted: Thu Aug 1st, 2013 06:01 pm
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Of course it is. Protocol Schmotocol! It sounds soooooo Olde British!

The theatre is not stuffy anymore. Submit freely. If we listened to British protocol, the United States, Ireland and half the Globe would still be a colonies!

Don't get fearful or stuffed shirty about your submissions!!

The best thing you can get in return is a theatre who wants your play and to produce it. Can happen by phone call, letter or e-mail. Any delivery system will do!

Most is done by e-mail or phone call.

The second best actually is get some comments on it in a personal letter of rejection asking for more work.

You can get a form letter asking for more work.

And you can get a form letter with hand written notes.

Summarizing briefly, you will KNOW when you get GENUINE PERSONAL encouragement! And you will know when you do not.

Often a form letter will encourage you to submit again.

Often a form letter will mention nothing about submitting again!

Hope this helps.

Best,

IMR

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 Posted: Sat Aug 10th, 2013 11:41 am
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Wendy Onslow
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This is very helpful (I don't mean that to sound sarcastic), it really is very helpful.

Wendy

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 Posted: Thu Oct 17th, 2013 01:54 pm
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Mana: 
Love your advice.  Thanks for the optimism!  And reality....  Do those two words even work together?  Ha!  But really, I appreciate your advice.

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