Showing posts from September, 2010

The System

I read an interview with playwright Kate Fodor over on Adam Symkowicz’s blog, and in it she shared a quote about life as a writer from Cary Tennis, who is an advice columnist at, oddly enough. Anyway, I thought it was terrific and thought I’d do my part to spread the good word:

“Remember that as a writer you must find your motivation internally, not in external rewards, and you work in opposition to the system, not as a supplicant to the system. Whatever contingent truces you have maintained with the system in order to participate in its orderly orgies of consumption and distribution, good for you. But you are not a part of the system. You are a free creative worker. You do not need the system to do your creating. You only need it as a utility to reach your audience, and increasingly not even for that. On the other hand, the system cannot create anything on its own. It can only manage and distribute. So it needs you. It needs you but it is not on your side. Remember that.”


The Shock of the Neu!

There’s been much talk in the theatre blogging community of late extolling the virtues of new forms of theatre, such as the one-on-one intimate performance piece (“You Me Bum Bum Train” at the Barbican and the “One-On-One Festival” at BAC are two good examples); site-specific theatre that has left the notion of the auditorium behind and pops up anywhere and everywhere that feels right (hotel rooms, empty buildings, public toilets, etc.); and theatre that emphasizes the “new” in terms of form and presentation over everything else.

This is all well and good. In fact, it’s great. Without innovation and experimentation we would find a hardening of the arteries that would lead to a deadening stagnation to the art form as a whole, and so a constant reexamination of what we do and how we do it helps to keep theatre fresh, relevant and alive. However, there appears to be a pervading sense of “out with the old, in with the new” amidst all this chatter, which makes me feel a little uncomfortable…

“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 c…

The Long Haul

I thought I’d offer another example of the true value of tenacity in this hardscrabble business. I offer it because, personally speaking, I always find it immensely encouraging when I hear writers share their tales of overcoming the odds or snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

Several years ago I had an idea for a short play that I thought was rather novel and could prove to be quite popular at short play festivals if done right. After all, it could be played by any age, ethnicity or gender, and in any combination thereof. It also would require no props and no set. A cash-strapped producer’s dream, not to mention the casting director.

After I’d finished it I sent it off to any opportunity that it seemed like a good fit for…which was pretty much most of them that I saw at that time. Again and again I’d submit it, feeling confident that its debut production – the first of many – was imminent. Wrong. Again and again the play was rejected. However, I resolutely continued to send it o…