Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Just Ask (how to get a new play reading)

Next weekend, on Saturday the 22nd, I have a reading of my newest full-length play, FlightMadcap Players in Washington, DC,  is putting the reading together, actor/director Paul McClane will direct.  I'm going to be down there to see Madcap's Winter Carnival festival, where they're producing my short play, Escape to Wonderland.  The reason I'm getting this reading:  I asked.

I'm not saying that as playwrights we always get what we ask for (if only that were true).  But sometimes, we need to remember that it's all right to ask for what we need.  Especially if we already have a relationship with a theatre (Madcap staged my full-length play, Constant State of Panic, last January)--we can't be shy.  In this case, I asked for something that hopefully won't be too complicated--they already have a bunch of actors around, they already have a space that's rented and available.  And even more importantly for getting a Yes, we can hopefully use it as a way to increase publicity for the Winter Carnival--my hope is that some people who come to the 3pm reading will stick around for dinner nearby and come back and see the show at 8pm.  It certainly gives us an excuse to send out a few more e-mails.

For me, I'll get to hear my whole play read in front of a small audience, by very talented DC actors.  And, of course, I'll be able to show Madcap what I'm up to with this new play (and I already know they like my work).

There are a lot of one-act festivals out there, and I'd love to see more playwrights work with theatres to do readings like this, where the cost and logistics can piggyback on existing projects, and everyone wins.  It can be a bit of extra expense and organization, but it's much easier and cheaper than putting together a whole staged readings festival.  And it allows the relationship between the theatre and playwrights to deepen, beyond just the production of the ten-minute play.

I'm a big fan of playwrights putting together their own staged readings--it's a way to get what you need, when you need it, instead of waiting around for someone to do it for you.  But working cooperatively with a theatre is even more effective, because it builds and strengthens vital relationships.


Ian Thal said...

Hi Patrick. I'm also a fan of playwrights putting together their own staged readings, in fact, it was something I started doing about two years ago.

I made a lot of mistakes along the way, but it taught me a great deal about both production and met a lot of actors. Also, due to the degree to which it helps one identify the relative strengths and weaknesses of a script, I consider it an essential part of the writing process!

Patrick Gabridge said...

Thanks for the comment, Ian. I'm a big fan of writers putting together readings for themselves, and for producing their own work. It's a great way to better understand the whole picture of how theater works.