by Patricia Veconi, Board member of The Bechdel Group
I’m guessing that a lot of my fellow playwrights out there have made resolutions – or maybe just set some goals – about script submissions in the new year. While I consider myself to be a new playwright, (or maybe, more accurately, a part-time playwright…or maybe just an enthusiastic playwright hobbyist?), I’ve learned a few things over the last two years that I’ve been writing and submitting my work to festivals, theatres, reading groups and competitions. I hope you find these observations helpful as you plug your work in 2017.
First of all, it helps to remember that you are part of a big, big community and most of the people you meet (usually electronically) are fellow artists who will be supportive, encouraging and kind. They will share the opportunities and resources they have heard about and you should do the same.
Join or subscribe to a playwright’s service group: There are quite a few out there and they provide lists of opportunities and various resources and links to all kinds of helpful stuff. Some of them will charge for a subscription, but others are free. You will also find a fair amount of overlap among them, so don’t feel like you need to be checking five different lists every day.
Organize your writing so it’s easy to download quickly and you can spend more time writing than submitting: You’ll need those plays to be in pdf files with separate versions that are blind. Keep a current copy of your bio and resume handy, too, along with a jpeg of your bio picture.
Write for yourself, but plan ahead, too: Most 10-minute submissions really do insist that your script be only 10 pages long and use only 2-4 actors. For one-acts, a maximum run-time of 40 minutes with 2-6 actors is typical. These aren’t hard and fast guidelines, of course, but if you want to submit often, you may want to keep them in mind as you are writing.
Keep a spreadsheet of all your submissions: It’s very easy to set up and keep current – and you’ll thank yourself when you can’t remember whether or not you submitted to that festival in Iowa last year.
Don’t submit if your work isn’t appropriate and relevant! This should go without saying, but really, read what the opportunity is carefully. If they want something that speaks to the LGBTQ community or the African diaspora or experiences on the Staten Island Ferry and your script doesn’t, then move on.
Lastly, let it go: You won’t hear back from about 90% of the companies you submit to. It’s not personal, they’re just busy people. But when you do hear back, it will be pleasant or even downright encouraging and kind. It will make you feel validated. ALWAYS thank those people and let them know how much it means to you to get feedback and that you appreciate their having considered your work.
Happy writing this year!
The Bechdel Group
Working to challenge the portrayal of women in film and on stage.