I finished (a week ahead of deadline) a rewrite of my full-length play Blue Roses. This is for a director and a project which may ultimately result in production. Fingers crossed. It has already resulted in a better play, and for that I am grateful. The rewrite came about from a Dramatist Guild program started in Portland. DG wants to help playwrights get more productions rather than spend our lives getting readings. For this I applaud them, I appreciate them, I love them.
When I started writing plays, I wrote for production. I can’t even imagine now. But it’s true. A friend and I co-founded Actors Sorority, a women’s theater company in Kansas City, Missouri in 1977. I wrote the first play, our company performed it (for money!) at The Foolkiller Theater and at The Midwest Women’s Festival, and we were up and running. We began producing about three shows a year, and I was writing or co-writing my head off, whilst also working full time, acting, making costumes, painting sets, forcing my kid into acting (because you know, she had to go with me), and coming out as a lesbian. Fun times!
After five years of this amazing fun, during which I moved to Portland and founded the Portland Women’s Theatre Company, I stopped acting, directing, etc, and turned my working attention to my full time job, and wrote only before work. Without a theater company, I found myself competing with all the other playwrights of the world, and began to get produced a bit less.
Then came email submissions, and recession, and more people submitting plays, and readings became the way new work got done in this country. Does anyone anywhere produce new work that hasn’t had staged readings, directed readings, workshops, and previews first anymore? Does anyone take that risk? Why would you (as a theatre company) when audiences will pay actual money to come to a cold reading by actors (some of whom aren’t even paid). Expectations are low and if they don’t like it (why would they?) not much is lost. If they do like it, maybe the playwright will get another reading.
Sounds grim, doesn’t it? For the playwright, for the audience, even for the actors. You’d think a person would give up. But if a person thinks she has a good story to tell (and I do!) she hangs in there, hoping that one day that story will show up on a stage somewhere near you, and you will go see it and be entertained. Maybe even think about that story later.
So, what did you work on this week? And ps, Poet Lisa Cihlar tagged me on FaceBook in the Poetry Game, so I have to post a different poem for five days and tag a different poet each day as well. Today is Day Two. Come join me at Red Crested Poet if you like.