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hey - a "positive" rejection!  Rate Topic 
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 Posted: Thu Aug 7th, 2008 12:37 am
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spiny norman
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Mana: 
yes, it's a rejection from playwrights horizons but it could be worse, i guess.

"We found it surprising and inventive.  Ultimately, however, it's a bit revved up for our tastes."

so i'll take it as a compliment - a good play, just not right for them (whatever "revved up" means).

i take pride in my "revved up"-ness!

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 Posted: Thu Aug 7th, 2008 04:04 am
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katoagogo
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Mana: 
Um -- I got a letter that used exactley that phrasing from them about six years ago.  Hmmm.

Reevaluating, now.

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 Posted: Thu Aug 7th, 2008 02:54 pm
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in media res
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spiny norman,

"Too revved up?" Sounds like a bunch of old ladies in house dresses sitting around drinking lemonade.

Congratulations. It means you sent it, which is the first step. It also means they opened it. And someone most likely read at least some of it. And they replied to you, which is more than many. So kudos to Playwrights Horizons for that. However, via katagogo, we now know Playwright's Horizons is inhabited by the Pod People. Though, most importantly we all can still have faith that our Postal System works!

The kind of rejection letter you really want to get are the ones that say, "We will be happy to read more of your work" or some such thing. That means they are encouraging you and want to see if there is some further interest and that you may have more than just one play. (I once read "a playwright with just one play is a playwrote.") In that case you get another of your completed scripts out to them sooner than later. In fact, send another to Playwrights Horizons.

And the other kind of letter you want to get is one that sites specific incidents in the play that they liked or did not, preferably up to the end of the script, which means that it was actually read. And one signed by the Literary Manager or the Artistic Director is even better. If that is the case, it means it made it that far.

Here is the other thing: You never know how much authority a particular reader has. Some initial readers have more power than others. And if they like it it moves up the chain. If someone signed the letter, as katoagogo suggests in her other wise advice in other posts, write them a brief thank you note.

Out of curiosity for us all how long did their response take after your sent it?

Get that play out there for more to see!

best,

in media res

Last edited on Thu Aug 7th, 2008 02:57 pm by in media res

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 Posted: Thu Aug 7th, 2008 05:16 pm
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spiny norman
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katoagogo -

in the words of jbj - "shot thru the heart & you're to blame..."

you just sucked all the wind right out of my sails...

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 Posted: Thu Aug 7th, 2008 06:36 pm
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katoagogo
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Mana: 
Same thing happened to me...

;)

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 Posted: Mon Aug 11th, 2008 01:02 am
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Martin H
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Mana: 
Well they haven't had a chance yet to tell me one of my plays is 'too revved up', but I'd be astonished if they didn't fnd it so.

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 Posted: Mon Aug 11th, 2008 05:00 pm
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spiny norman
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Mana: 
just sent this email back to playwrights horizons:


Thank you for your timely response to my submission.  The sting of rejection was tempered by the encouraging comment that you found the play "surprising and inventive" but, alas, too "revved up" for your tastes (whatever that means).

Unfortunately, I recently discovered that another playwright received the exact same letter from you approximately six years ago. 

Perhaps it's time to work up a new form rejection letter.

All the best,




well, they were never going to do anything by me anyway...

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 Posted: Mon Aug 11th, 2008 06:55 pm
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in media res
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spiny,

Can't say that was the best way to do it.

You could have used it as an opportunity to continue submitting.

You had them at "thank you."

And hard copy letters on stationery are better for "thank you's" than e-mails.

A lot of business is courteously learning how to bite your tongue.

But...if it made you feel good....

You said "timely response." What was the time in "timely?"


best,

in media res

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 Posted: Mon Aug 11th, 2008 09:00 pm
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katoagogo
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SN:

For me, whether or not they used the same phrase to describe the work, I'm happy that they took the time to read thru the play and consider it.  To get to the level of receiving a signed letter on company stationary means that probably 3 to 4 people took a look at the work, considered it, and then gave it the "too revved up" mark.  I reuse the language in my letters all the time when dealing with theaters, from the query to the thank-you.  When you're sending hundreds of letters out you're going to reuse phrases.

I'm sorry that I mentioned having gotten the same phrase in a letter.  I didn't realize that it would be seen as an offense.  I found it interesting that the same phrase had been used and thought I'd share that bit with playwriting colleagues as an example of how the business side of the process works sometimes.  I thought it was worth a chuckle for you and me.

Getting a signed letter from a theater is always a good response.  It means they considered your work, and that's always cool.

--Kato

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 Posted: Fri Aug 15th, 2008 06:00 pm
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spiny norman
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kato:

my problem with the rejection is that i thought i had gotten a personalized note with some real encouragement & then i find out that what i got was a form letter disguised as a personalized note. 

if you tell every playwright you're rejecting that their play has the same good qualities then it means nothing -  it's a a form letter and to paraphrase gs - a form letter is a form letter is a form letter.  better to just say "thanks but no thanks" than give what amounts to a meaningless pat on the back. 

a signed form letter is still just a form letter someone scribbled on.  it means nothing.  i get those all the time.  i thought i was finally "moving up" to a personalized response but i wasn't.  so it's a gyp (as we used to say - no offense to gypsies intended).

Last edited on Fri Aug 15th, 2008 06:10 pm by spiny norman

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 Posted: Fri Aug 15th, 2008 06:02 pm
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spiny norman
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in media res -

i guess i'm just not mature enough to thank someone for rejecting me with what has turned out to be a form letter.

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 Posted: Sat Aug 16th, 2008 07:44 pm
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emjaydee
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Mana: 
Seven of my eight submissions to one publisher have earned this response:  "Although your work has much to offer, we do not feel we can market it advantageously at this time."

Sure, I get this is a thanks but no thanks, but I always find the last part problematic. Does this mean I should re-submit at a later time? Other than putting my play in  their catalogue, where is the marketing?

A new subject heading for the forum might be "Favorite Rejections."

My personal favorite: "I hated it." No confusion there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 Posted: Sat Aug 16th, 2008 07:46 pm
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Martin H
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Mana: 
Best one of that kind I've had included a reader's letter asking what they were putting in my food.

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 Posted: Sun Aug 17th, 2008 05:02 am
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katoagogo
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SN:

You're mistaking writing your response to the theater instead of to a person.

The theater didn't receive your e-mail, a person did.  That person will probably not be working at that theater two years from now.  They will be working somewhere else.  Maybe that theater will be interested in revved-up work, but you shot yourself in the foot by sending that e-mail.

The people involved with making theater happen -- love to make theater happen -- are volunteering at literary offices all around the world and have to answer e-mails and read queries and turn in their opinions about 50 scripts they read last night.  And then they move around.  You never ever know what door you may closing.  It wasn't a form letter, it was a way that people who love theater cope with the fact that they must write hundreds and hundreds of rejection letters to playwrights like you and me.

Last edited on Sun Aug 17th, 2008 05:02 am by katoagogo

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 Posted: Sun Aug 17th, 2008 06:37 am
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leon
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Mana: 
i love it when they ask if they can "hold on to the play".  i say sure, hold on to it.  grip it, use it as a coaster, or if one of the legs of your chair is a little short, you can use it there.  i personally would like it if i were asked if they could use it as a fly-swatter.  that would be a cool use.  much better than putting it on a shelf and putting it in a sotrage bin.

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 Posted: Sun Aug 17th, 2008 11:17 pm
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in media res
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Mana: 
Excellent advice from Katoagogo. It is not a theatre. But a person. You lost your chance to establish a rapport with a (probably young) person who will be moving around most of his/her life.

Kato says 2 years at a theatre. It could be 1 year or six months. Face it, most of the people who are "front line" are low or unpaid interns. Sorry, but that is the truth. And some of the interns are given a LOT OF SAY at some theatres IF THEY ARE TRUSTED. I know a few myself.

One intern I know well who had directed a play of mine while in college, chose a play by an unknown playywright that came to the theatre she was working for her to produce at a one-act festival in a different theatre than she was working for. They are all there to advance themselves, not the theatre. Keep that in mind. So, you never know whom you are writing to and what connections you may make.

I will never say it is easy, but I will say why shoot yourself in the foot when you don't have to?

best,

in media res

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 Posted: Mon Aug 18th, 2008 12:00 am
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spiny norman
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you seriously think that if i sent a thank you letter to the intern that sent me a form rejection letter i could establish a rapport with them???  you honestly expect me to thank them for sending me one???  and you really think they'd feel kindly about me if i did & then keep a lookout for my name as they move from theatre group to theatre group??? 

thanks for giving me good laugh today!

if some little intern wants to make a note of my name and my pissy attitude & carry it around with them for the rest of their life, i have no problem with that.  if they have that much time on their hands & they're going to spend it being petty, they're not anyone i want to work with anyway.

and to make it perfectly clear, i have no problem with form letter rejections.  just don't disguise it as a personalized rejection.  that was really my point in this whole discussion.  like they say - don't piss on my leg & tell me it's raining.

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 Posted: Mon Aug 18th, 2008 12:26 am
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in media res
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Spiny,

Glad I could give you a good laugh.

But, I gotta tell you, having made a living in this in the business for over 30 years, yes, THAT is the way things work. I am not trying to "pull rank" on anyone, but that is the case. I try to pass on my experience.

I can tell you, I have been in more faces than you can imagine, but those faces have all earned my discord. This comes from a union actor who has always volunteered to be Equity Deputy ( job steward.) And a guy who has been been Captain on more theatrical/film picket lines than most actors/writers/directors have been in shows.

There is just no reason to be nasty to someone who has not earned it. Did you write the Artistic Director or the Literary Manger of the Theatre in your response? That is the person you should direct your question or your comments to in a reasonable manner. Part of being in any business is making an attempt to understand the responsibilities and the time of others. Very few try to be jerks. (Though I have definitely dealt with some.)

We all have our own style, and believe me, having grown up in the construction trades, I am no wallflower in expressing my opinion. But I am not into making people feel bad when it is no fault of their own.

Yes, you did miss a chance to establish a rapport with someone. I am not saying it would have worked or that it will work on every occasion. But why shoot yourself in the foot?

Take this for what it is worth or not worth..

best,

in media res

Last edited on Mon Aug 18th, 2008 01:22 am by in media res

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 Posted: Mon Aug 18th, 2008 12:37 am
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katoagogo
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SN:

The advice about sending a thank-you for signed rejections was given to me by Paula Vogel.  I take her advice seriously and act on it.

--Kato

Last edited on Mon Aug 18th, 2008 03:28 am by katoagogo

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 Posted: Mon Aug 18th, 2008 01:25 am
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in media res
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P. S. From my youthful experiences, I can attest I got professional blowback from someone 20 years later! And it never occurred to me that there was any professional misunderstanding at the time. You just never know what is going on in the other person's head. And this person was/is a nice person. And successful. She did it with a stiletto, not a bludgeon. And during that youthful time, I did not realize, how what I did at that time, caused the pain. She is still a great person in my eyes. Terrific, in fact. But I know we will never work together again, and I refer no one to her.

But, if she were to call me, I would be the first person to help. That is just the kind of guy I am. Because I look for talent, not ego. But, I also know, that will never happen.

And this is about any business or relation, not just in show business. Just as plays are based on relationships within the play, so are the relationships in life/business, as sad as that sounds. Some of my dearest friends whom I have worked with never have never done anything/much socially. Some we have. But we are close in either case. We know the boundaries/necessities of the relationships.


best,

in media res

Last edited on Mon Aug 18th, 2008 02:15 am by in media res

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 Posted: Mon Aug 18th, 2008 03:46 am
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katoagogo
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  spiny norman wrote: in media res -

i guess i'm just not mature enough to thank someone for rejecting me with what has turned out to be a form letter.


The "thank-you isn't for the rejection letter -- it's for the time that the people at the theater took to seriously consider your work.  If you received a signed letter that means 2 to 4 people at that theater actually took the time to read it (at least in part).  They took the time to pass it on to the next person in the chain.  They thought there was something in it worth attention.  They were interested in your work. 

As it turned out, that particular play did not suit their needs.  The "thank-you" is for that time and attention, and is the building block for additional time and attention of your other works. 


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 Posted: Mon Aug 18th, 2008 04:35 am
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spiny norman
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okay, i promise this is the last thing i'll write in this discussion!

i guess my problem with what you're saying is that i don't consider a signed form rejection letter to indicate that several people read the play.  for all i know, one intern read the script, decided against it, printed out their usual form letter, signed it, stuck it in with the script & threw it in the mail.  i was not invited to send the script to begin with (their usual process is that anyone can send in a complete script) so i have absolutely no indication that more than one person read the thing.

and when you say -

    The "thank-you isn't for the rejection letter -- it's for the time that the people at the         theater took to seriously consider your work.


isn't reading/considering my play their job?  why should i feel the need to send them a thank you letter for doing their job? 

and now i'm done & moving on!  : )

Last edited on Mon Aug 18th, 2008 04:42 am by spiny norman

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 Posted: Mon Aug 18th, 2008 04:37 am
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HarveyRabbit
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Spiny Norman,

The simple fact is you can’t take rejection letters personally. If you do, you’ll never survive in this business. And that’s what it is – a business.  

The reasons for why you may receive a rejection from a particular theatre or producing group are myriad. It could be that your work simply didn’t fit with the ethos of that particular company, or that your script ended up in the hands of an unpaid lit dept. intern that just wasn’t mature enough to realize the brilliance of your work. Either way, you just have to stolidly accept the outcome. If you let your own vanity enter the equation it’ll bring you down every time.

And Kato and IMR are completely right in their well-intentioned reproofs: the world of theatre is much smaller than you would ever imagine.

A form letter rejection from a prominent theatre group is par for the course. For you, as a playwright, staying the course is the real test. 

Thicken that skin and drop the bravado, is my advice to you. 

Nothing good comes easy.

H.

Last edited on Mon Aug 18th, 2008 04:41 am by HarveyRabbit

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 Posted: Mon Aug 18th, 2008 03:24 pm
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katoagogo
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A whole lot of time is spent in these forums bemoaning the difficulty getting your plays produced, and how it is all about who you know at what and such theater and on and on.

Then there's the talk about how if you're one of the majority of playwrights in the world who do not live in New York, then what a great disadvantage you have, and how it's so hard to get theaters to read your work, and on and on.

If you are not in NYC participating in the theater scene in person -- then your representative in that pool is 100% on paper.

That's the importance of penning great letters, and using written correspondence to establish yourself.  The first impression you make on people is your letter.  A thank-you letter is a valuable opportunity to make a good impression, just like sending a thank-letter to any potential employer after a job interview is encouraged (although very few people make the effort-- but that effort can set you apart from the pack). 

http://www.emurse.com/blog/2007/02/22/following-up-after-an-interview/

As both HR and IMR point out, this is a business.  The theater you are querying is a potential employer.  The potential contact person (doing their job) sent you a "positive rejection" letter (BTW-- Off Broadway theaters like PH don't send that kind of response just to be polite, they send a letter like that because they see potential in your work).  Why not cultivate a personal business practice that sets you apart from the rest?

http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/bud-bilanich/success-common-sense/three-tips-creating-positive-personal-impact

Last edited on Mon Aug 18th, 2008 03:49 pm by katoagogo

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