“There's villainous news abroad!"

There is a well-known and respected theatre in London (which I shall refrain from naming) that has a stellar reputation for presenting new works of social and political relevance. Thinking that this could be an ideal place to send a particular play of mine, I decided to look up their submission policy. Sure enough, after a short while I discovered a link named “new writing.” To my dismay, however, upon opening the “new writing” page I discovered not an explanation on how to submit a play or play sample for their consideration, but rather a short paragraph asking for £15 (or $25) in return for which they’ll read your play and let you know what the reader thought of it (whoever and however qualified this anonymous person may be). That’s it. No consideration for further development, simply a paid opinion on your play from some unknown entity. They also make a curious comment about your “reader’s fee” not being acknowledged by them.

I find this all rather disingenuous for a state-funded company that prides itself on presenting “new writing” with a social conscience. There are plenty of theatres that accept plays with the proviso that they’re unable to offer written feedback due to the number of submissions they receive, and this is completely understandable. But these theatres are also taking the time and trouble to read your work (gratis) with this possibility of future development with them. You tell me which is the better deal?

This company’s policy is not in service of new writing, and certainly not of playwrights. In my opinion it’s simply treating up-and-coming, struggling playwrights as a revenue source.

Not pukka, sahib.

My little tantrum over, I shall now go and lie down for a while.


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