MY PLAYWRIGHT’S SUBMISSION DIARY (or November so far anyway)
“How do you make so many submissions?” I hear that constantly from fellow playwrights who say they comb all the sites and don’t find anything, or anything appropriate, and feel like they must be missing something. They are: the idea that you have to create your own submission opportunities and there’s no other way to do that than through the dreaded N word: networking.
While I can’t share every single submission I make, and feel a little gross about trying to monetize the information, I can share a week’s worth of submissions in the hopes that you get the idea that every piece of information you get can be a potential submission. Every person you meet can be a potential submission (and I DO NOT mean the kind where you’re shoving plays in people’s faces without every having spent time with them; I can’t tell you how often I hear of and see playwrights do just this, and I can’t imagine it ever leads to much).
Not every day of submissions is the same, nor do I make submissions every day. Here’s a look at November so far:
11/1/18 — at the start of the month, I always go back and see where I submitted the year before that needs to be done again, so…
Gulfshore: AD (posted opp)
ATHE: TEACH (posted opp)
Leah Ryan FEWW: Teach (time to submit again)
(DEVELOPMENT OPP): BWOA (invitation)
Kentucky Women’s: BWOA (posted opp)
(THEATER AD): TEACH (producer of another play offered to send to this AD on my behalf; I met that producer through a cold send to a posted opp)
(PRIVATE REQUEST from OPFB, after a discussion on the page): OTR
November 4/5: I was in Miami for a reading of TEACH at Zoetic Stage; I’ll follow up with those people at a later date.
November 7/8: I was opening a show at a local high school. That production happened because I reached out to heads of drama departments asking if anybody was interested in doing the world premiere of a YA play.
Breaking Through the Box: BWOA (a posted sub)
(ACTOR): OIML (a request from the producer of OIML to send it to this actor’s managers, because the actor is from Buffalo. The producer is the one who contacted the managers; I met the producer because he Googled “playwright from Buffalo,” then commissioned and produced this play)
November 10–12, I was in New York. In addition to the reading of ON THE ROOF at Queens Theatre, I got together with three playwrights, a director, and an actor who sent a good word about TEACH to a theater I’ve been courting. Do not travel without making meetings!!
(DIRECTOR): TEACH, Solo (I met this director while in NYC at the Dramatists Guild Conference and invited him to drinks while in NYC; he asked me to send him these two plays that we talked about)
(ARTISTIC DIRECTOR): FITD (A couple of years ago, a playwright was in town for a production, and I discovered he went to the same high school my sons go to. He was staying with his parents, so we had breakfast. We stayed in touch; when I was recently in NYC, we had coffee, and he told me he’d given my name to this AD.)
PWC Core Writers: TEACH (checked last year’s submissions and saw it was time)
Sam French OOB: Solo (announcement came out)
Reading Depot: BWOA query (announcement)
Parson’s Nose: C2 (call for plays)
The Public: TEACH (I’d left a note to myself to send them this play once I through the past couple of readings because I’d previously been asked to send more work)
(THEATER): OTR (An actor in a recent reading loved the play and asked what’s next for it? I asked if he knew anywhere I could send it, and he thought this was a perfect fit, and gave me a name; the AD has already written back to say he’ll try to read it over Thanksgiving)
Kitchen Dog: HOS (NPX opp)
Butler University: LWN (NPX listed theater, asked for a workshop opp; already rejected)
(ANOTHER COLLEGE): LWN (prompted by the NPX listing, I contacted another college where I have a connection; I was told to follow up in a few months)
(ANOTHER COLLEGE): LWN (ditto)
(DIRECTOR): TEACH (followed up with the director of my recent reading and asked to send another play; we’re planning coffee next time I’m in NYC)
(THEATER GROUP PRESIDENT): HOS, TEACH (had lunch to talk about new play development in general, and he expressed interest in these plays)
Red Herring: BWOA (NPX listing)
Reading Depot: LWM (heard back from query; decided to send this play)
Mad Cow: CND (NPX listing)
Owensboro Summer Shorts: YHCAB, FT — withdrew in face of $20 fee (announcement)
(THEATER): SOL, C2, FITD (from being in the Hoboken Library Festival, this theater requested to use my play for a fundraiser; I asked if I could also send full-length work)
So far today…
Actors Theatre Grand Rapids: WTW (email announcement)
Canal Shorts: VE, DGBMH (email announcement)
Total so far: 29. That’s how quickly they add up, and it’s only two-thirds of the way through the month. Of that 29, maybe one will turn into something real, but I don’t think about any of that while I’m making them because making them is every bit as important as the writing itself. Note that only 10 of them were posted calls.
You might be saying, “But I don’t know all those people. I haven’t networked enough to have those kinds of opportunities.” If that’s the case, then you make time to get online and explore theaters. Start with American Theatre magazine or American Association of Community Theatre and start researching the members. I mentioned the other day on Facebook a theater that finally put a play of mine in their short pile; that relationship started with cold submissions.
I’ll say like I always do that nobody starts out making this level of submissions; it’s something to work toward and build up to. What’s important is developing the “pay yourself first” mindset, i.e. make submissions a priority, so that the more people you meet, the more you read, the more you explore, the most opportunities for submissions present themselves. And when they do, don’t procrastinate. Build the numbers, build the momentum, build the career.
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Dramatists Guild Council member and ensemble playwright-in-residence at Road Less Traveled Productions, Kilroys List and award-winning playwright Donna Hoke’s work has been seen in 46 states, and on five continents. Her full-length plays include ELEVATOR GIRL (2017 O’Neill finalist), THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR (Princess Grace semi-finalist, currently in its fourth year in rep in Romania), SAFE (winner of the Todd McNerney, Naatak, and Great Gay Play and Musical Contests), and BRILLIANT WORKS OF ART (2016 Kilroys List, Winner HRC Showcase, Firehouse Festival of New American Plays); she’s also authored more than three dozen short plays that have had hundreds of productions, and has been nominated for both the Francesca Primus and Susan Blackburn prizes. She’s also a two-time winner of the Emanuel Fried Award for Best New Play (SEEDS, SONS & LOVERS).
Donna is also a New York Times-published crossword puzzle constructor; author of Neko and the Twiggets, a children’s book; and founder/co-curator of BUA Takes 10: GLBT Short Stories. For three consecutive years, she was named Buffalo’s Best Writer by Artvoice, the only woman to ever receive the designation.
In addition, Donna is a blogger, advocate, and moderator of the 12,000+-member Official Playwrights of Facebook. Recent speaking engagements include Citywrights, Kenyon Playwrights Conference, the Dramatists Guild National Conference, Chicago Dramatists, Austin Film Festival, and a live Dramatists Guild webinar. Her commentary has been read at #2amt, howlround, the Official Playwrights of Facebook, the newly released Workshopping the New Play, and donnahoke.com.
Originally published at blog.donnahoke.com.