I write this while pretty and awfully sick in New Mexico. I just got off stage and am lying in bed downing fluids and trying to waste time before I go to sleep. The show I’m in went well despite myself- it’s called THE TEACHER SHOW it’s at the REVOLUTIONS INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL (which is dope) and is a collaboration written and performed with the amazing artists Idris Goodwin and Megan Gogerty. We sold out and people stood afterwards which was very nice (though to be honest I always feel like when I get a standing ovation it’s not deserved, my Catholic self hate never leaves me).
So while I was buried in the dressing room bathroom (sorry Megan and Idris) I could overhear them talking and an interesting thing that came up was this exchange (I’m gonna out them)
MEGAN: I don’t send out plays anymore.
IDRIS: No, fuck that. Waste of time.
MEGAN: It is! A waste of time! I mean should I spend 6 months killing myself over this to send to people who will never read it? Or who will want to change it? Should I?
I don’t think they could hear me. I said “no” too. Well, as best I could.
So, as I lay here wanting to go to sleep I wonder now how interesting. You have three playwrights. Me, Idris and Megan. Now between us you have a Jerome Fellowship, an NNPN Residency, an upcoming production at the Humana Festival, 2 Kennedy Center Awards, the NNPN Smith Prize, Barrymore Award, B. Iden Payne Nomination, Oneill Playwrights Residency, Inge Fellowship… and so on and so on. That’s the short form.
And none of us think it is worth our time to submit plays.
NONE OF US.
And we aren’t the only ones. I have a friend- who was not int he dressing room, he’s got a big Award they give out in NY- and we had a similar conversation a year back (I don’t out him because it was a year ago and who knows maybe he’s submitting to 10 minute play festivals on NYC PLAYWRIGHTS.COM as we speak, I don’t want to presume).
This is where the gatekeepers are helpful. Agents are part of that. I don’t know if Megan or Idris have agents, I never ask. I don’t really care. I used to care about agents- in all honesty- as that last tangible part of legitimacy. I have wanted one in the past not because I believed they could do anything for me. But really because in this hazy field the absence of one could gnaw at my insecurities. Please give me one more supposedly legitimizing thing.
Now, I don’t care. For awhile. An agent could never do for me what I am doing for myself.
But that does not solve the NO PLAY MAP. I think, and I am going to reduce, that a of online flaming about theater is all no diversity, no interesting programming, no risk, no progression… All reasonable and honest qualms. Qualms felt to such a result that separate of one another a bunch of playwrights are just not sending their work out to folks. THE NO PLAY MAP.
But I know a lot of playwrights are putting themselves on.
Dano Madden- NNPN Resident. About to open a show in NY with the Artful Conspirators (the Ikea play and it’s dope)
Samuel Brett Williams- NNPN resident. Just started Camisade (he’s got an agent but we won’t hold it against him, somebody’s got to send the manila)
J. Holtham- I don’t know him but the New Black Fest.
Obviously, I started a company.
And there’s so many more that I’m too ill to really search for…
But it reminds me of my mom when i was in grade school and kids were mean to me. And wouldn’t be my friend and she’d say:
“Why would you want to be friends with people who treat you like that?”
If theaters want to be buildings, let’em.
Theater, the art, as we know is people just doing it. Putting themselves on.
I need to sleep.