Thursday, September 12, 2013

Marketing Resources

In today's world of marketing, publishing and getting produced, the author (in this case) has to do much of the work him or herself. That is the grim reality. It used to be that high on the playwright's list of resources to acquire was the Dramatist Guild Resource Directory, which may still be true today. But in addition there are a LOT of online resources and those resources are growing everyday. I am not an expert at marketing and I am not claiming this is anywhere near comprehensive. Much of it was taken from an email that Gary Garrison of the Dramatist Guild sent out when he brought the ever-useful "The Loop" to an end.

In addition to some of the resources below, the playwright interested in marketing themselves may want to consider LinkedIn and Facebook, if he or she hasn't yet signed on. Both offer groups that allow you to network with like-minded individuals as well as provide information useful to the playwright trying to get work out there.

Here are some online resources to get started:

Submission Calendar 
A calendar for deadlines

The Center for Theatre Commons
(also referred to as HowlRound)  See their about page for an explanation.
This site promotes not-for-profit theatre and new plays.

An online community for writers.

Other sites:

Playwrights' Center
Emerging Playwrights
Northwest Playwrights Alliance
The Playwrights Realm Gang

Miscellaneous other sites:

The Playwright’s Forum
(see "Markets and Marketing" two-thirds of the way down the page)
Playwriting Opportunities for the E-Merging Writer
The Burryman Writer’s Center
En Avant Playwrights Board
America Association of Community Theatre

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Keeping it Simple... Sam

I recently accepted an opportunity to write a fifteen minute screenplay for some actors who are learning about the craft of acting for the screen. The time limit for this project is forcing me to do what I should always be doing: getting straight to the story. Instead of being deceived by the empty page and seemingly huge white canvas to work on (how will I fill up all those pages?), I am keeping things simple out of fear that there is not enough space and time. Maybe I should start all my projects as if they had to be fifteen minutes long.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Co-Leading Workshops

I have long felt that the best learning environment for a playwright is in rehearsal. I often find myself sharing my experience (either as a writer or a director) in order to drive home a point about a certain element of craft. But why not have an actor in the room who can actually demonstrate this? So, over a year ago I started a conversation with Hope Lambert about this idea. I went to her because she is an educator as well as an actor and she has considerable experience working on new plays. Like composers who understand the instruments they write for, so it is with playwrights: we can only benefit from understanding the actor's process. Not only does Hope provide insight into this process, she gets everyone on their feet with some acting exercises that ultimately generates ideas and inspiration for writers. Nothing beats the process of rehearsing your play with actors, directors and designers, but those opportunities are woefully rare. Our hope is that co-leading a workshop like this moves us from focusing on words on the page to visualizing and hearing what our imaginations are conjuring.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Two Years Later

It's hard to believe that almost two years have passed since the last post. When I first wrote the subtitle to this blog I had no idea how occasional "very occasional" would be. It's been a busy two years, particularly teaching. I have spent a lot of time thinking about how best to run writing workshops and in the last two years I have put these ideas into practice. Fast forward two years and I am now co-leading workshops for playwrights with Hope Lambert, a talented actress from the Washington area. We are currently offering workshops at First Draft in Virginia and the Writer's Center in Maryland. If you have taken one of these workshops (or one that I offer by myself), I hope you will provide some feed back, either here on this blog or by email. I've been writing as well and in the process I have tried to apply what I preach in the workshop. At least I think I do... or I would like to think I do. So, why co-lead a playwriting workshop with an actor? I'll offer up some thoughts on this in upcoming posts.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Dialogue Trap

One of my favorite writing activities is to write dialogue just to see where it takes me. This is a double-edged sword: it can lead to wonderful discoveries, but it can also be a trap. You get lost in witty (on a good day), fast moving, revealing conversation between two or more characters, but if you aren't careful it will lead you in a circle. You do have to be cautious, because so-called realistic dialogue can just wander around the block. Just when you think you are on the verge of discovering the new world, you find yourself at your own doorstep. It's the dialogue trap.

If this does happen to you, read the dialogue for details. Maybe, in the midst of all the chat someone is telling an interesting story. A story that is taking place in the next block that you never got to in your wanderings, or in the next neighborhood... maybe the next town over. Doesn't matter. Go there. Check that story out.

Or maybe you don't find anything. Either way, throw away the dialogue. If you find a story lead, chase it. If not, try some more dialogue, but this time pay attention to action, the present... sniff out that story.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

So Little Time

I am only able to make it to rehearsals of my newest production at the Hamner Theatre in Nelson County, Virginia about once a week. The first time I made it down there the company had been working about two weeks on the play. It was a remarkable experience as it felt to me what it must be like to rediscover a child you gave up for adoption some years later. The play, on its feet and in the hands of all the artists, had grown so much in two weeks. In some ways I barely recognized it! The words were all the same, but the actors were coming alive. I felt like I had missed so much. And I had. And I am. On the one hand it's exciting, but I can only imagine what adjustments I might be making if I was there to witness the work and struggles all the artists must go through with a new script. Still, it's exciting to see it grow, even without me. It's a wonderful gift to have a production of your work, but there is also so much to be learned (both about this play and writing in general) by attending as many rehearsals as one can. But there is only so much time and the drive takes about 2 1/2 hours.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Journaling is an important aspect of a writer's life and this becomes a topic of discussion in writing workshops that I lead. While one might think this is a relatively straight forward idea, there are all sorts of considerations that go into making this work for you. For example, what kind of notebook do you journal in? Mary Amato, an aclaimed and award-winning children's author writes about the importance of carrying a notebook in her blog, so the size of the notebook becomes an issue. I have more than one: I carry a small one in my pocket, a medium sized one in a bag and my daily journals go into large notebooks. This can get confusing, but that's a topic for another day.

What is a journal? It needs to be whatever serves you as a writer. In my workshops I find this can cause some confusion and I do my best to explain there are no rules, except for one: write every day. Even if it is only for ten or fifteen minutes. Get into the habit. Start with whatever comes to mind. Better yet, refer to the little notebook you carry with you everyday (you do carry a little notebook don't you?) and start with something that caught your attention the day before. Complain, celebrate, observe, describe: pretty soon you will find you won't lack topics, you will lack time.