At the start of every new year I make an effort to send off some plays to theatres and festivals across the world. This means once again stepping into the realm of madness, chicanery and anti-logic that is the global theatre scene. These are all (ALL!) real calls for submissions from actual theatres and theatre festivals and my reactions to them.
Read, and realise why you should raise your children to be accountants.
“Wanted: Scripts that explore our obsessions with pop and sub-culture, and that use that obsession to say something about social equity and systems of oppression.”
Would you like to save us both some time and just dictate the play you want me to write?
“One-person shows – musical, tragedy, comedy, etc. $55 entry fee. $695 participation fee if selected. Playwright receives quarter of ticket sales.”
You mean I only have to give you $750 dollars and if the show makes three thousand I’ll break even? SIGN ME UP!
“Musicals only. Playwrights must produce. $25 fee.”
“Pay us $25 dollars and we’ll give you a hernia.”
“Hard copy submissions only.”
“Yes, we know everyone uses email now and that it’s cheaper and easier both for you and us. We don’t care. We hate trees. A tree killed our dad. We won’t stop until every last one of them is dead.”
“Bold stories, writing that takes risks and plays that speak to a modern audience. No restriction on subject matter. UK based writers only.”
Oh what, your “modern audiences” who want bold writing that takes risks with unrestricted subject matter can’t handle my foreignness?! COWARDS.
“First-time and experienced playwrights are welcome. All theatrical genres accepted (including musicals). $10,000 prize.”
We are good, decent people who actually understand how this is supposed to work.
“Plays must pertain specifically, though not necessarily exclusively, to the East Village and Lower East Side of Manhattan. Theme: “Hope” as it relates to life in the East Village of today and in eras past.”
“Specifically”, but not “exclusively”, so you can’t say they’re not giving you some wiggle room there. Also; I’m an Irish playwright. I do not write about “hope” and I’m offended you’d ask me to.
“Ideally looking for subject matter that will appeal to an age range of 18-30.”
What, are you trying to keep the advertisers happy or something?
“Plays for young audiences, holiday plays AND plays about Michigan people, places, or things.”
I can write you a play about Michigan things or places. But not Michigan people. NEVER MICHIGAN PEOPLE.
“Write a final scene for your own imagined version of Brave New World (novel). It should be a scene created from your own imagination that takes place either BEFORE or AFTER or as an ALTERNATIVE to the book’s existing conclusion.”
Well I’m not doing Leaving Cert English and you’re not my teacher so…no?
“Plays that empower women. The leading character must be a woman. Female protagonist is also required.”
“Also, it is imperative that our hero be of the female gender. Additionally, the individual who is the primary focus of the narrative must in no way be male. Furthermore…”
“Playwrights from Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska & Iowa only.”
“We aim to showcase some of America’s finest plays by corn.”
“Playwright must produce, gets 100% of the box office.”
HOT DAMN! 100% OF THE TAKE! But then…who pays the actors, costume people, techies, box-office managers, publicity people, stagehands, ushers and makeup crew? The producer? I see.
“1-month artist’s residency. Applications from playwrights accepted.”
Why…why would you need to clarify that? It’s like if I see a restaurant with a sign that says “JEWS WELCOME”. Why would you even need to bring that up?
“Open to all, and playwrights do not need to have a connection to south east London.”
“Open to all! Oh, but I have no connections to South East London.“
“No friend, even to you it is open!”
“What?! Can it be?!”
“Yes. The world has changed. South East London has changed.”
“Oh, that I would live to see this day…”
“All genres accepted. Kentucky natives or residents only.”
Extra Crispy: A Chicken’s Story.
“Scripts written in the style of old-time radio, with plenty of sound effects, and with a variety of voices and good roles for females. Must be family-friendly.”
Family friendly?! See here, pal! My wireless capers is fulla licker and dames with gams that go to the moon and shifty Chinamen gettin’ the ol’ one two right in the kisser! And that’s the way I like ‘em, see?
“Theme: Connecting/ Disconnecting. PART 1”
Are…are you asking me for a Connecting/Disconnecting trilogy? I’m not sure I’m willing to sign up to that kind of commitment.
“Central New York high school students only.”
Sigh. One year without an elaborate 21 Jump Street –esque caper where I go undercover as a high school student, is that too much to ask?
“Only original plays, never before produced, are eligible.”
There is nothing original. There is nothing new. All we do is rifle through yesterday’s trash. We are the garbage men of human culture.
“The play must be based on a well-known fairy tale, and must include at least two different fairy tale characters interacting within the story. Must have a steampunk element.”
Sorry, I looked in the mirror today and it turns out I’m not Neil Gaiman.
“Theme: Untold stories.”
Never heard any.
“Playwrights must produce.”
Fine. But then the producer must write the play. Check. Mate.
“All themes and topics, but particularly interested in plays about the environment, climate change, and sustainability. Native American, Alaska Native, Hawaiian, and First Nations artists only.”
Maybe they don’t want to write about the environment, climate change and sustainability? Did you ever consider that? Maybe they want to write plays that are fulla licker and dames with gams that go to the moon and shifty Chinamen gettin’ the ol’ one two right in the kisser like the rest of us?
“Submissions in all artistic disciplines (incl theatre) are considered.”
“Looking for an additional scene to a play by Bernard Shaw. The scene can be set in any time frame and can be before during or after any other scene in any of Shaw’s plays. Prize $500. Open to all.”
“New/original works, unpublished or unproduced. Adaptations ok. Michigan residents only.”
Fine. You win this round, Michigan.
Haha I always think that about the paper whenever I see “Hard copy submissions only” like what world are you living in do you just want me to spend my money on a small chance you will pick my work? Ugh.
Likely a world in which people purchase lottery tickets. Namely this one.
A fairytale steampunk play, huh? Gee, I bet that would have been fascinating. What a shame you don’t have any playwright friends with an interest in folktale permutations who also happen to have written a thesis on the critical power of steampunk literature.
I’ll send you the link.
It’s still open?! O.O Who was asking for it, btw?
I think so. I’ll check.
Got it. A version of the Princess and the Pea where the princess was secretly a factory labourer sent to the palace to assassinate the royal family and begin the liberation of the underclasses. 10 minutes, two players, done within the fortnight, wham, bam, thank you, Los Angeles.
Ah… the stigmatizing of Musicals. So sad.
They get no love.
Thanks a lot, Zac Efron.
Hey, Zach Efron is a music LEGEND man! Everyone remembers where they were when they first heard this epic power ballad-
YOU’RE NOT NEIL GAIMAN?!?
Friend, I have some bad news for you. That was the only thing that might’ve stopped me from getting everyone I know to vote for Hunchback 2 in the deathmatch.
Did you deliberately look for Michigan based play submission things or was that a happy accident?
Michigan rules the world of theatre with an iron fist.
Is it that you’re not Neil Gaiman or you just don’t want to be Neil Gaiman hard enough?
Your comebacks always make me laugh. I’ve talked to a Kentuckian, apparently they don’t care much for having people insinuate that they are genetically programmed to fry chicken.
I still find it hard to believe you aren’t Neil Gaiman since that Coraline-esque scene in The Hangman’s Daughter. I guess I’ll take your word for it, but if any news of Mrs. Sharpson’s making a collaboration music album from the viewpoint of a pair of conjoined twins comes out, the jig will be up.
Honestly you could consider the old-timey radio one. Basically they’re asking you to write Legend of Korra, and I’m onboard for that.
That one did actually sound fun.
That was very funny! Was the South East London one for a theatre in that area? And I second Jen the Great on the old timey radio one. There are various podcasts with old plays which might be useful research for sound effects, if that’s any help. 🙂
Thanks. I assume it was in SE London. I have my next play picked to write. It’s a horror comedy about Victorian suffragette ghost busters.
‘Yes, it’s true. This gentle lady has no crinkum-crankum.’
Crinkum crankum has now entered my vocabulary and I thank ypu
“you should raise your children to be accountants.”
I can attest the life of an accountant is a miserable and joyless one.
But presumably with money so that’s one ahead of plauwrighting.
Well, you see a lot of money, but it’s mostly money that belongs to others.
If you think that’s bad, try looking for a job in the illustrator/graphic design market. To quote Einstein, “If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith.”
You’re an artist?
Freelance storyboard artist, though I usually fall back on graphic design and other illustrator work since the need for a storyboard artist doesn’t come up as often. Still, I’m not bitter. I love drawing (and writing too).
I was actually looking for an artist a while back, don’t know if you saw the post?
Oh yeah, I did. I drew a few ideas but then forgot about them and then thought “He must have found someone by now.” I’d be happy to send you what I got if you haven’t already.
I sent it! Did you get it?
Still, very funny and insightful. You’d be surprised how similar some of the description/calls are similar to jobs I’ve found.
Aw, no one EVER wants to write a play about me and my fellow Michigan people. No wonder we’ve apparently started turning down any and all outside offers.
But seriously, this list was as hilarious as it is depressing. I applaud you for being not only able to wade through this, but continue on in spite of the often-utterly-baffling requests they make.
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be playwrights!