Today I wrote to Oprah Winfrey's show to suggest that she stage 10 minute plays on her show. The exact submission that I sent is in italics below. If you like the idea (or some version of it) then go to her web site and send your own proposal in.
Yes, by all means promote any play you've written that would be apporopriate. But more importantly let her know that playwrights like the idea and would appreciate the opportunity to be involved.
To submit your suggestion: Go to Oprah.com Then go to "Be on the Show." Click on "We want your show ideas!" That will pop up a submission form where you will be given 2000 characters (including spaces) to discuss your idea.
My submission is below:
Oprah has done wonderful things for writers, her book recommendations have helped increase an interest in books at a time when there are so many movie, TV, and internet alternatives. So, I think it would be wonderful if Oprah would do the same thing for those of us who are playwrights.
The sound stage stage appears to have enough room for the production of small cast, simple set 10 minute plays. Then after the play is acted out Oprah could discuss it with the actors, director, playwright and members of the audience. Or the play could be discussed with experts in the field/s touched upon by the play.
For instance, I have written two 10 minute plays either of which might be of interest. The first, Hitler in Heaven, is about what happens when a minister dies and seeks admission to heaven-- from Adolph Hitler. Discussion of this play might include Baptist, Catholic or Islamic scholars or theologians as well as Oprah and the audience.
The second 10 minute play is Crowded Conversations about a 15 year old boy who wants to leave the home of his custodial father and step-mother and go live with his biological mother. This play could be discussed by psychologists, experts on teen issues or other experts with insight into this issue.
10 minute plays could be done to introduce particular topics, as part of a 10 minute play festival or as part of a reality show type contest where the audience votes for its favorite and the ultimate winner is named the "Oprah 10 Minute Play of the Year."
Whether my plays are of interest or not Oprah's promotion of theatre and new playwrights would be of tremendous value to those of us who are working so hard to have our shows produced. With the visibility her show offers the Chicago and New York theatres are bound to get a boost-- not to mention the small community theatres across the nation who desperately need people in the seats if they are to continue surviving (much less having an opportunity to thrive).
I just submitted a similar letter, highlighting the importance of sharing playwrights' works with the larger population (and suggesting a few of my own pieces and why they might be of interest :-)). We will have to be in touch with one another to see if we get a personal response and it can go further. Let's hope... :)
Perhaps and just an idea if those of us who are members of this forum would approach her as a group, she just might/could/possibly consider it a viable idea or project. Of course she couldn't use all our plays and that could present a problem. Whose plays should be selected and on what basis? Would she be open to the idea of paying the fare to fly playwrights from all over the world to Chicago...strictly for consultative purposes of course. Who wants to represent the forum? Anybody? In case Oprah asks - my schedule is open.
Although I think it's a very interesting proposition, as one who worked in production for a good minute, I think the question that really has to be answered and compellingly is how OPRAH's empire benefits from this. I would go as far as to say there should probably be as many petitions from non-playwrights as there are playwrights. Why? Because it may have the sound of playwrights asking for some sort of "hand me something." Just think of the throngs of indie filmmakers, models, singers, dancers, photographers, painters, sculptors, performance artists etc. who'd shoot/borrow/steal for their 15 minutes. Not to be a joykill, just trying to see how the system could be worked and that's what these people are looking for-- something that will make OPRAH look better.
Perhaps an approach would be an hour of theatre i.e. devoting her entire in support of theatre arts. Her audience would benefit since they would get to see and be entertained by 5-6 short plays. I like the idea but then I've written some short-shorts I would love produced. She would benefit as a supporter of the arts and a unqiue program that she hasn't done, yet.
Also a TV reality show to find the best plays/playwrights including non-U.S. playwrights and the winner having their play produced professionally (ideally on Broadway), then following the show from the beginning to the peformance. I can dream...
tragedian wrote: Also a TV reality show to find the best plays/playwrights including non-U.S. playwrights and the winner having their play produced professionally (ideally on Broadway), then following the show from the beginning to the peformance. I can dream...
I like your thinking, tragedian. I'm not too much in favour of the Broadway bit but I think you've pointed out what sells on TV, which would naturally interest Oprah.
Rather than pester her with "please play my play" bits, it makes sense to approach it from her angle.
If she can position herself as the Evangelist of an art in danger of dying but for her intervention, she might be even more interested.
Actually, Rosie O'Donnell who is a huge supporter and booster of plays on Broadway in particular, might be a better or more viable option. She did produce a play a couple years back with Boy Thing... I mean Boy George, which unfortunately failed. Be that as it may I recall that she always featured musical numbers taken from shows that were playing when she had her own TV show and when she was a regular on "The View", she gave away tickets to the audience.