figuring it all out
Are you willing to travel?
First, a bit of background. Even though I live in a Canadian city chock-full of theatre activity, my first production took place several provinces away. It was only a ten-minute piece and the payment was low, so at first I had no intention of spending more than I was going to make to fly over and see it. But as the big day drew close, I couldn't stand the idea of not seeing the show - after all, what if this was the only thing I ever got on stage!?! So I paid my own way, was put up by some wondreful members of the company, and had a delightful time. Now I've received my first play commission by a company that can even afford to pay a playwright's airfare if they're out-of-town... which I am, because it's taking place in the same city as my first production!
Anyway, all of this has got me paying more and more attention to where I'm submitting things and, essentially, how I would get there if the script is accepted. Will the company cover the costs? Is it somewhere I can bus to? Fly to? And for how much?
I'm just wondering if you guys find yourselves paying attention to the travel aspect of submitting plays, or if you're more concerned with getting the thing produced, whether or not you'll be able to see it.
First of all many congratulations on your production and new commission - well done! Please keep us posted.
Personally I have never submitted beyond where I could possibly travel to and not overseas as I couldn't imagine being part of an ongoing collaborative theatre production and yet being out of the loop. A theatre will/should expect you to be part of the process but of course there are limits to travel expenses unless you have a play on a second run or are well established.
A standard WG theatre contract does include travel and associated expenses as well as an attendance fee so these costs for a writer are expected and they are absorbed into wider production costs. A director will need you there for workshops, rehearsals, readings etc and most likely casting. If they commission a play from a writer out of the area they take this into consideration.
Personally I wouldn't want to have a play on unless I was part of the process unless it was a production of something previously produced and
I couldn't imagine a theatre wanting to work with a 'new' writer or new work and not have them actively take part. Saying that, I am not sure if I would be as bothered about a very short play or a competition but I would still like to be there. The biggest learning curve for me and where the bulk of the creative work takes place is seeing a play being put through the development process prior to production and I would rather miss the performance than that.
Where else in the script writing world are writers so listened to and well regarded as in theatre? (goes a little way to making up for the shitty money) I get such a buzz from watching a play being lifted from the page in the development process and getting to work closely with actors and a director to improve my work and move it forward. For me as a writer striving to write better plays and learn, the process is more significant than the end product.
Last edited by endless rewrite; 10-21-2006 at 03:45 AM.
I enter playwriting competitions wherever they may be based. I always take the view that if I win, I'll deal with the specifics later, and if I need to be there, then I'll find a way when the time comes. I know it's something you do need to seriously consider, but personally I have to say that if a piece of mine was being done on the other side of the world, I'd sell my Grandmother if it meant I could be there for as much of the process as I possibly could.
When life hands you lemons, ask for tequila and salt.
figuring it all out
Thanks for the congratulations endless rewrite. I had been hesitant to tell anyone (including my friends) about the commission until the contract was all signed and such, so just in the past few weeks I've had a great answer to the question "So, what have you been up to?"
Well put! This is the part I'm really getting excited about. While I did get extensive email notes on the ten minute piece from the Artistic Director after every reading they did, it's still not the same as being there. Reading your take on the process has gotten me even more excited - and a little bit nervous, but in a good way. (BTW - Congratulations to you on already having what sounds like multiple productions!)
Originally Posted by endless rewrite
But then, like you Mandy-Jane, I keep seeing script calls or contests that I'm interested in, but have no idea how I'd get there. So far I've actually been holding back from submitting to them, but I can feel my resolve on that breaking down. I'm mostly worried that I will go to an extreme to get there, and end up quitting my job or blowing all my savings on travel. (Does your grandmother know about your committment to the craft?)
I wonder if anyone's ever regretted how far they went to go to one their own productions...
Thanks for your replies!
I have no choice but to submit well out of my geographical location because...I live on an island in the middle of the ocean, and my choices here are limited. Luckily I've been able to make it to see my produced plays so far because family has lived in those areas so it's a good excuse to visit. Unfortunately, a theatre on the mainland is doing a World Premier of my latest play in the spring that I will have to miss because I'll be too pregnant to fly! I'm sad that I'll have to miss it, but still excited that it's happening, so I have no regrets about submitting it so far away.