“Thank you for the notification—even if it is a rejection. As laptop playwrights in an electronic submission age, it is amazing how few notices we actually receive, even of the mass email variety. Although I am disappointed that my work wasn’t selected, I wish you the best of luck with your picks, and I will, indeed, keep your venue in mind for next year.”
With that established, our connection terminates. We have nothing left to say beyond this--that your reader(s) preferred another kind of writing than what I submitted, if my script was, in fact, read. But here are some of the things I wish that playwrights could say from our end without being blackballed for life in the theatre universe.
If your company charges a submission fee, I delete your information. Who do I think I am? I know, I know. . . What I really do know in today’s economy is that writers are pretty powerless and we’re definitely not in the position to do any rejecting of our own, but I also know that there’s a higher truth. The truth that we make no money, and it is nothing but a vanity venue if we do “pay to play.” These “fee” kinds of calls are not opportunities so much as they are distractions. No rants, no arguments, end of story.
Let me also share that I am horrifically, utterly aware of my own anonymity. I am. And, even if it’s true—and I know it is (as one of 7,000 members of the Official Playwrights of FB, which is neither official nor comprised of just playwrights, I’m daily reminded how many SELF-IDENTIFYING PLAYWRIGHTS are out there)—it does not stop the bleeding to hear how “overwhelming” your response was in the “quality” or the “quantity” of plays you forded to make your final decisions. It is a numbers’ game so when you detail that mine was just one of ten billion plays received, you box my ears unnecessarily roughly. I’m just saying.
Afterwards when I go to these venues—which I still support if I can get to them, even if the favor isn’t returned, I’m surprised to see the shows that were picked. I am often disillusioned that such and such a script could have been chosen when the competition was as fierce as keeps getting reported. Art is subjective and “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” and I just may need another pair of eyeballs all together. And perhaps a lobotomy, not to mention money refunded for both of my Masters’ degrees.
I love theatre! I love being onstage and I love creating characters and stories for the stage. I love everything about theatre, except for the submission process which honestly feels not just like you are on a neverending job interview, but one that has all the charm of a cattle call, where the line snakes down the stairs, out the door, down the street, and around the corner to circle NYC twice. Seriously, it’s soul-crushing.
The reality of trying to get your work produced is harsh and, yet, I wake every morning, padding over to the coffee pot with one eye open, and then I sit and write. To write, I have to shut out these obstacles: the idea of a commercial theatre career, the competition, and the clatter of those trying to be heard. I walk into the world of my play, letting the forest or the beach, a bedroom take me—away from the noise and into where my art needs me to go.