Monday, May 21, 2007

Gary Garrison in Boston for Dramatists Guild

The Dramatists Guild sponsored a "playwrights' town meeting" here in Boston this weekend, led by the DG's new executive director, Gary Garrison.

Garrison brought considerable energy to the Boston Playwrights Theatre Saturday afternoon, and talked at length about some of the changes and new programs he'd like to see coming from the Guild. Of particular note:

  • A national conference. (Long overdue).
  • Revamped web site.
  • The possibility of members being able to store or archive their own scripts on the DG site.
  • More regional focus in DG events and publications.
  • More focus in The Dramatist on playwrights who aren't the standard big NY names.
  • The ablity to download the DG contracts from the web site (for free)
  • Improved health care plan.
  • He wants to talk to theatres about getting DG members free or reduced ticket prices (much like Equity members can get free seats).

All of these sound like good ideas to me. They'd certainly make Guild membership a lot more valuable to all playwrights.

In addition to the town meeting, I stuck around for Garrison's playwriting master class, entitled, Keeping the Drama in Your Work and Out of Your Life. He had a bunch of entertaining stories and some good advice. Key points that I took away:

1. Be aware of your own strengths as a writer (we're all well aware of our own weaknesses).
2. Beware of jealousy that comes from comparing yourself to peers who are at different places in their careers from you. You need to set your own milestones.
3. Find a theatre hero, a playwright whom you admire. Read all of her work and all about her, so that you really have someone that you know in depth and can use as inspiration.
4. Don't expect your loved ones to read your mind, in terms of supporting you and your art. Let them know how to best support you.
5. Stop trying to get an agent. When you need one, they'll come to you.
6. No one asked you to be a writer.

And a bunch more that seem to have fled from my mind at the moment. But I'm sure it's all in his book, Keeping the Drama In Your Work and Out of Your Life. For Boston playwrights it was a nice chance to gather for an entertaining pep-talk and some insight into this life that we've chosen.

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