I’ve been thinking a lot since last Thursday about writing a blog post about something that is sitting very heavy on my heart and mind, but I haven’t had the guts to write it.
I've been glued to the story of #EyalGiladNaftali, the three Israeli teens (one of which is a US citizen) who were abducted by on Thursday night. This is a problem. Three young men being taken captive for no other reason than they are Jewish and in Israel and a chip to be bargained with. These issues are not too far from home. People being abducted, terrorism, prisoners, that’s all first world problems too, that can happen right down the street in Somerville when we least expect it.
People go missing. Innocent people go missing or get taken every day in this world. So why do these three boys pull at my heartstrings so much? Why am I tagging #bringbackourboys but barely tagged #bringbackourgirls when several hundred schoolgirls were abducted by Nigerian militants?
I don’t have a good answer for that. I don’t. I can’t explain why Israel, a country I have only visited once (for a multitude of reasons, and I’m ashamed of not going more), and three Israeli boys, none of which I know personally, hits me so hard. But it does. I’ve been praying for these three boys, reading, watching, posting, and tagging about them all week, and beg for their safe release. I can’t explain rationally why I cry for their families, and resurrect my prayer book of Tehillim to ask Hashem for their freedom, but I do. This takes me to Ilan and Andrew, the two characters in my play FROM THE DEEP (FTD), which will be premiering in March 2015 through Boston Public Works. I see the faces of Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali, and I think about Ilan and Andrew. I think about two boys who I have spent the past year and a half writing about, and here are some real, present day faces to the stories I was telling and it makes me sick.
In FTD, the character of Ilan is loosely inspired by Gilad Shalit, an Israeli POW who was held captive from June 25th 2006 to October 18th 2011. I followed his captivity like many people at a mostly Jewish Liberal Arts college, I went to a rally or two, posted on Facebook about it occasionally, and when he was released, I celebrated by myself in my apartment with tears streaming down my face. Like many I was conflicted about the terms of Gilad’s release, but also so happy that another solider was returned alive and not in a body bag. The year Gilad was taken a distant cousin of my father was taken as well, Ehud Goldwasser. He was one of many POW’s who were unable to tell their stories. His condition was kept secret, and he and fellow captive were returned deceased. In that instance this sort of terrorism became not just something I felt for Israel as a Jew who loves Israel, but it felt personal. It became personal. And yet, I can’t say I did much to help Gilad Shalit. I was not the kid who had my Facebook picture one of Gilad’s until his release, I never wore a “Free Gilad” t-shirt, and I never wrote a thing about him other than the occasional wall post.
I was in grad school when Gilad was returned. I was in the middle of working on The Bathroom Play, and I remember noting that I wanted to write something about Gilad, and about POWs but I had no clue what. On the first anniversary of Gilad’s release articles came out where Gilad was asked how he survived the five years, and what did he do with his time? And he answered, I played games. Later he went into more detail about crumpling paper balls and throwing them into a basket, making lists, drawing maps, and creating games as simple as those to keep his mind active. This blew my mind. I was struck by this idea, but still didn’t know how to express how I felt about it. A few weeks after the one year anniversary of Gilad’s release a young man in Boston went missing. I was working at BPT at the time and this college student’s face was posted all over the city. When he was found in the Charles River a few days later, I realized the story I needed to tell, the story of two missing people fighting to survive, the story of hope in the darkest of places, and the story about two kids. Sure, one kid was a solider in a country that is torn by religions, race, war, and boundaries, and the other was a college student, a good kid, well liked, camp counselor, and at the end of the day you Google him and the most recent hit is from 2012, the year he went missing. There are a million differences about those two young men, but the similarity that is most important to me is that they were/are someone’s son who went missing, they were/are part of someone’s family that has to go on the news and make a statement like “Bring back our boys,” or “bring back my son.”
I have been asked a few times now why I wrote FTD, and on different days I give different answers. Today, and probably since I heard the news of Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali, my answer is this: I wrote FTD because I am terrified of the idea that people can just disappear. We are all capable and susceptible to abduction. Sure, when you live in a country like Israel the treat is higher than let’s say Boston, MA, but still people go missing, people get taken, and we can only hope and pray that they are found safe and unharmed. But in the end of the day it could happen to any of us, it could happen to our children, it could happen to our parents, and that’s terrifying. Andrew and Ilan come from different worlds and yet I put them together in the room of the missing to try to breakdown what it means to be missing and ask what do the missing have to do to survive. And do you need hope to survive? I'd like to believe Gilad had hope, and my character Ilan fights hard to maintain his hope and to encourage Andrew to find hope. And also, I don’t think I have the answers, I really don’t have them, thank God I have not be in the situation ever to really have these answers, but does anyone really have those answers? Not having the answers is why I tried to write about them.
So what does all of this have to do with Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali? Honestly, I’m not really sure. Like I said, I have no answers. But I know that my heart aches for them. I want to raise awareness. I want to do all the things I was too preoccupied with college to do for Gilad Shalit when he was in captivity. I want to be the dumb American wearing a Free #EyalGiladNaftali t-shirt, I want to go to rallies, I want to post on Facebook a billion times asking people to pray, meditate, think good thoughts, whatever, for their safe release. I look at the faces of these three boys and I think of my two fictional boys and all I can ask for is real hope. So, if you read this blog all the way to this point, please share the faces of these three missing boys, they could be your sons, brothers, parents, they could be you. I’m really not a political person, besides for my love for Israel and women’s body rights, and gay rights, I’m not really someone who posts about politics. So please put aside the politics for a moment and think of these three boys as three boys, as someone’s sons. Ask for their safe release.
There is a moment in my play that reminds me a lot of what I was trying to express in the above blog post. I thought I'd share it with you.
Excerpt from FROM THE DEEP p. 80
You thought I had some great big secret? Well guess what, I don’t. Unlike you I’m not a celebrity. I’m just a guy. A nothing person. College students go missing all the time, people staple signs to trees and telephone poles, but then they disappear, fade in rain and wind, new ones go up as soon as the next kid’s missing from his dorm, or preschool, or camp trip. People go missing all the time, and the world quickly forgets them. A solider goes missing, he becomes a political figure.
I’m not a political figure.
You should see the rallies people had for you.
Have for me.
Right. Make for you. I remember hearing about the schools nationwide, tons of Jews have got your back, Zionists and what-not pleading for your release. They’ve got T-shirts. A kid on my campus walks around in a Free Ilan T-shirt all the time.
Yeah. They got websites for you.
And you don’t think they’ve got webpages for you? Your friends? Dean? Kate! You have to tell yourself they are looking for you. In fact, you’re more of a person to them than I am to any random person in the U.S. wearing some dumb T-shirt. They’ll be looking! You just gotta keep... strong.
(I am reposting the blog I wrote for Boston Public Works here. Just for you!)
Cassie M. Seinuk is P2.
So many of you--my friends, colleagues, peers--have been the victim of me sharing the Boston Public Works Indiegogo campaign with you and asking you to show your support and donate. I hate doing it, I really do. We all do. It’s like that time when your great aunt gives you money for Afikoman (see Jewish translation below), and you really want to sneak a peak inside the envelope, but have to wait until later, and you’ve cleaned up from a five-hour Passover seder to finally peek inside that envelope and look for dollar signs. It’s the same thing really, but just like you don’t want to humiliate yourself by greedily ripping open the envelope and slobbering on it like Cookie Monster would a chocolate chip, asking your great aunt Silva (name changed to protect the family) for $25 seems incredibly rude.
Even more so, asking best friend Jennifer (name changed to protect the grad student), is even more awkward and, let’s face it, terrifying, because that means you’re saying , hey, person who would never ever give me money as a gift, can I have money as a gift?
So… you know, it’s not easy. It’s even weirder when you message someone on Facebook, like your flat-mates from 2007 in Scotland (location changed to protect the ultimate playlist makers), asking them to support your dreams… they might even ask, who is this? We don’t like doing it. It’s not fun. It’s squirmy sometimes.
BUT in the past three years since this Indiegogo/Kickstarter/Crowdsourcing phenomenon began, I too have been broke, often unemployed, and constantly weighing theatre tickets over meals, playwriting books over cups of coffee, and of course, donating to your campaigns over a drink with friends. No, this isn’t I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine… but wait, isn’t it? Isn’t that what the whole crowdsourcing phenomenon is about??? That’s what I always thought… Pretty much until now. I always thought if I gave 10 or 15 or even 25 here or there to your I'm-Making-My-First-Record Campaign, or Building-My-Own-Restaurant, or Starring-In-My-Own-Web-Series campaign, that I would one day, when I needed it, get some sort of “pay-it-forward”-cute-Haley Joel Osment-return of the favor. Was I really so wrong to think that? I support you, you support me? Maybe. But that’s besides the point, I support you because, frankly, I believe in you. I do. I really do. I’m still the girl sitting with my face glued to the TV screen watching the VHS tape of Mary Martin in Peter Pan clapping my hands off, screaming, “I believe in fairies!” (Many of you fairies turned out to be some of my best friends…) Look, for those of you to whom this rant applies, I believed in you. I had one less iced latte, whiskey drink, or, dare I say, ice cream (for those of you who really know me you know how serious that is) so that I could support you!
Regardless, it doesn’t mean that if I didn’t donate to your campaign, or if you never had a campaign to begin with, that this whole rant above doesn’t apply to you. It does. It applies because remember that time we went out for dinner and for whatever reason I took the bill? Or that time we went out for coffee and you needed two more bucks and they didn’t take credit cards? Or that time I got you, again dare I say, COMP TICKETS! (Sorry, I was loud just there). Or that time you were in a show and I came, or you needed a friend and some cookies and I was there with a bag of rainbow cookies form that bakery in Spring Hill (location changed to protect my co-kitty-mamas), or that time I met with you for extra time to run lines (you all know who you are)… It’s not because I wanted to be repayed someday, it really isn’t, that’s not the way the world works, clearly, but it’s because I cared about you, and believed in you, and wanted to support you.
Look, this whole blog isn’t about donations over $36, really it isn’t even about donations over $18, and actually it’s really about donations of $9. It’s about 9 bucks a playwright. 9 bucks! 9 smackeroos! That’s all I am asking of you. Because believe me, I do know what it’s like to be waiting for the next pay check, and boy do I really hate asking you guys who are in my shoes, but then I think about myself, and how many times I buy a beer or an iced chai latte, and how I can take that money this month, or week, and put it towards the first season of Boston Public Works, where my dear friend Cassie aka Frass aka Cashew aka Cah aka Cass aka Cassiopeia aka Nuk aka whatever you call me, will have her first EVER full length production (that runs for more than two days as a thesis project – all you Runners out there, no disrespect, H.D.C!) … get to the point Cassie! 9 bucks. Right?
Here are some things you can buy for 9 bucks:
Look how many things cost only 9 bucks! Here are some things we will need to buy for our shows that will cost 9 bucks or less!
If you can spare two Starbucks drinks, or one sushi roll, or make one sandwich at home this week instead of your favorite sandwich shop, the whole Boston Public Works gang will shower you with our undying gratitude. We really will. We are very good at playwriting, but we are also very good at showing our love.
I’m going to get back to stalking you all on Facebook now… Love the very awkward and kooky curly, Cassie aka P2
(PS: Afikoman, meaning "that which comes after" or "dessert” is a half-piece of matzo which is broken in two during the early stages of the Passover Seder and set aside to be eaten as a dessert after the meal.)
Click here to donate 9 bucks!
It's finally LIVE! Help make the first season of Boston Public Works happen, and support us as we take our plays into our own hands!
Just like our friends 13P, The Welders, and the others popping up all over the country, we are putting the power back in the hands of the playwrights, and hoping to change the way art can be made! Not only are we forging a path for ourselves, but we are leaving behind a road map so that you too can do it!
Why support us?
You believe in our work.
You know how hard it is to get that coveted first production.
You love me?
You love plays?
You want to make a direct impact in the next season of theatre in Boston.
You think Jim Dalglish is super handsome?
You have seen a reading or workshop of one of our plays and thought, hey, I really want to see this fully produced!
There are many reasons to click donate, and at the end of the day it's up to you. But I hope we can both continue to support each other on our journeys as artists and friends.
Also, donations are AMAZING! But also share! Share with your dog, your cat, your parents, your neighbors, your book club, that billionaire you know, and pretty much everyone you know!
If I haven't sold you yet, watch the campaign video here, and learn more about what we plan to do in the next three years!
Check out our LIVE campaign here!
I am so excited that FROM THE DEEP will premiere in Boston Public Works' first season. We've built an organization, launched our presence in Boston, announced a season, and secured venues. We've gone as far as we can go without serious financial backing. We can't take Boston Public Works any further without YOUR HELP!
We will be launching our Indiegogo campaign for the first year of Boston Public Works this Thursday, May 15th 2014. I'll post a link on the website and here on the blog as soon as it's live!
I am so excited to get our first year running, and the first ever production of FROM THE DEEP off the page and onto the stage. We will be working with some fantastic artists on this show including: Lindsay Eagle (Director), Erin Baglole (Stage Manager), Charles Linshaw* (Actor "Ilan"), Jeff Marcus (Actor "Andrew), Sara Bookin-Weiner (Dramaturge), and more fantastic designers and collaborators to come!
One of the exciting incentives we are offering is an original piece of artwork by me! So that's pretty exciting too!
THE CAMPAIGN DOESN'T START UNTIL THURSDAY. BUT WE'RE AS EXCITED AS YOU ARE. COME BACK AT 8:00 A.M. (EST) THURSDAY MORNING AND EVERYTHING WILL BE A GOGO. INDIEGOGO, THAT IS.
I just wanted to say thank you to Gregg Henry and all the folks at the Kennedy Center for all the amazing workshops and panels at Nationals, and for the wonderful unforgettable experience. I am so honored to receive this award, and it was very special bringing it back to my family, and knowing that my grandfather is up there smiling. I left feeling a nerdy sense of the American Dream in my hands... if that's a feeling... and inspired to write harder!
I also wanted to thank my mentors at Lesley for all their guidance on FROM THE DEEP, and my writers group Interim Writers Accomplice for all their eyes and ears. I also want to thank the actors and directors who have collaborated on the play with me thus far. And also my husband Mike for spending Passover in DC with me, and supporting me in the audience as I accepted the award (and tried really hard not to fall down the steps or cry). Lastly, My family for their love and encouragement -- it was great to come back to Passover to your support and love... and then play WallyBall like a champ.
I also want to give a shout out to my KCACTF Region 1 Posse. Nick, Abbey, and Steph, you guys are awesome, and I was so glad we all got to go to Nationals together and represent our kickbutt region! Congrats on your awards! And all the other finalists at Nationals, I look forward to staying friends and hearing about all your successes in the future!
OOB Festival: When did you start writing plays? If you had a moment where you realized you wanted to write, what was it?
Cassie M. Seinuk (CS): I started writing plays before I ever knew that’s what I was doing. I was that kid who put on shows in her jungle gym with her cousins and made the parents sit around and watch. Between then and actually taking my first course in playwriting in undergrad, I mostly wrote fiction, and dabbled in TV writing. Even though I enjoyed my college playwriting course, it wasn’t until a thesis snafu in the fiction department, and the suggestion from my Stage Management mentor that I sat down to write my first full-length play, RUNNER: The Novel The Play, an adaptation of a novel I was writing. When I saw my characters come to life, I caught the bug and am now playwright through and through.
OOB: Let’s talk about your entry to this year’s Festival. How did you come to write this play? Was there a particular inspiration behind its creation? How has it developed?
CS: For the past year and a half I have had the privilege to work with the wonderful people at Nylon Fusion Collective Theatre in NYC, and participate in six of their “This Rounds On Us” (TROU) 10 minute play festivals. Since NFC produces new work I have had the challenge of writing a themed 10 minute play at least six times with them, and OCCUPY HALLMARK was a play I wrote and submitted to their 2013 Valentine’s Day TROU. But the real birthplace of this play came about years ago when a friend and I wanted to write some short scenes with one drunk character and one sober character. I maybe had a page of dialogue from that project that just sat on my computer until this past December when I thought, “Hey, what if this guy is protesting Valentine’s Day,” and so the rewriting began. Since then this play has been performed with NFC and also at the Marblehead Little Theatre’s TNT Festival in MA. It has also been work-shopped with my cohort at Lesley University where I just completed my MFA in Writing for Stage and Screen.
OOB: What are 5 words that describe who you are as a playwright?
CS: Two years ago, when my play THE MUSE was in the OOB Final 40, to this same question I answered, “Bold, Meta, Provocative, Unique, and Persistent.” Two years later there are a few words I’d like to switch out. Now I’d say, “Fearless, Provocative, Quirky, Full-of-Heart, and as always Persistent.”
OOB: What/who are some of the major influences on your writing? Do you have any sources of inspiration that might be considered unconventional?
CS: The major influences in my writing are always changing. Of course there are always playwrights that I feel are “speaking my language,” or at least a language I aspire to, like Samuel Beckett, Naomi Iizuka, David Harrower… Right now I’ve been finding a lot of inspiration in the people around me, like my writers group Interim Writers, and my colleagues from my MFA program. Talking with other writers about writing always gets my gears going. Unconventionally, I do love to eavesdrop on strangers’ conversations on buses, trains, and coffee shop.
OOB: What’s one fact someone would never guess about you?
CS: I studied Mime in Ireland as part of a study abroad program in college. I have to say my mime skills have faded since, but I still break out in a mime routine every once and a while…
OOB: Any new projects you’re working on or shameless plugs?
CS: Well… I just left grad school with some pretty cool plays I am pretty proud of. I’m really excited about play I just wrote called FROM THE DEEP, here’s a little blurb about it: “When Andrew, a missing BU Grad Student, arrives in the surreal room of the missing, Ilan, an Israeli POW of five years, must convince Andrew to play the games, keep his mind active, and face the truth of his captivity before they both go missing forever.” …Any takers? Also, my short play EVEN AS I GO will be adapted into a short film this summer!
OOB Festival: Where do you come from (home state, state of mind, or both)?
Cassie: I am a Cuban American Jew, or “Jewbana” as I like to call myself, from North Woodmere, Long Island. It’s a little town that has only recently made it onto the maps. They knocked down our post office and built an old age home, and we don’t have our own zip code, but it’s home. I currently live in Somerville, MA, and since I found my voice as a playwright while living in Boston, I feel as though I’m a Boston Playwright.
OOB Festival: Give us five words that describe who you are as a playwright.
Cassie: Five words that describe me as a playwright… Bold, Meta, Provocative, Unique, and Persistent.
OOB Festival: Talk about your entry to this year’s Festival. How did you come to write this play? Was there a particular inspiration behind its creation?
Cassie: In my free time I tend to do a lot of portrait artistry and I was looking through some of my work and noticing that a handful of pieces in my portfolio were titled “The Muse,” and yet they were all of different people, and I though how interesting the ever changing muse is, but that was just a I thought. It wasn’t until later that week, after a long day of assistant stage managing, I got on the bus to head home, my head resting on the window, I closed my eyes as if to doze off, and I just got this great visual of a teenage boy scrambling out of an apartment, disheveled, and with a wad of cash. I then though about how much it would suck if that same boy had to go back into wherever he just came from because he forgot his socks. From there my imagination took off, and I nearly missed my stop. When I got the courage to enter “The Muse” into this festival, I called the director, Kenny Steven Fuentes, and said something like, “Dude, wouldn’t it be awesome if we took The Muse to New York?” And awesome it is.
Cassie: I’d tell the audience it is okay to laugh, then I’d lean forward and say please laugh! I guess I’d like the audience to get a little nostalgic, but I’d also love some jaw drops, and surprise gasps.
OOB Festival: What/who are some of the major influences on your writing? What’s the most unconventional place/thing that you’ve taken inspiration from?
Cassie: I am a big fan of Samuel Beckett, Neil LaBute, Adam Rapp, Paul Auster, and J.M. Barrie (he wrote Peter Pan); I would say those are some of my biggest literary influences. I’m a big fan of awkward silences and situations, especially if you throw in some overlapping lines and courageous language. But when it all boils down to it, my late grandfather Ysrael A. Seinuk, a paramount in the engineering world, is the man I credit my drive and devotion. He always instilled in me the matra, “from strength to strength,” and I dedicate all of my writing to him. Maybe great engineers and skyscrapers don’t usually inspire playwrights, but every time I return to New York and see the skyline of his buildings I feel like my potential is limitless.
OOB Festival: What is your “dream play”–that is, if the more restrictive elements of production (budget, space, casting, and technical elements) were not a consideration, what type of theatre piece would you create?
Cassie:. When I think of “dream play” I immediately think of this project we had to do in college called “dream project,” you know – write down our dreams and make a weird little theatre piece with absolutely no budget and no real technological help in an obscure space like stairwell or lobby of the Spingold Theatre at Brandeis. So… that was fun. I love to think about the cool sets and the great effects I could have if I bled money, but when it all comes down to it, theatre, or what makes theatre dreamy to me, is the raw emotion that can drive penniless theatre students to make insanely unique pieces of art, that you walk away from and feel like something inside has just changed. Sure I wont turn down a budget, but to make people feel truly affected… that I’d like most.
OOB Festival: If someone saw you on the street, what’s one fact that they would never guess about you?
Cassie: That I am not a pre-teen. People always tell me that one day I’ll be glad I look young, that I’ll come to treasure my baby face. But right now I just hate when moms come over to me at the mall and ask me if the baby pink Juicy velour tracksuit they’re buying for their 14 year old is what the “kids our age” are wearing these days. I am ten years older than that. I know I’m young, but I’m not that young. You can’t imagine how weird it got when I worked at Kids and Baby Gap… very weird.
Okay. So this is re: my blog post from a few weeks ago “Let’s talk Trees” about hard copy submissions and why I think they are a huge problem in the submitting world — So, today I got my StageSource reminder telling me to submit to Fire House Center For The Arts and I thought to myself, ever year I see this posting, and for some reason every year I don’t submit… and I couldn’t remember why, but when I downloaded the application rules I remembered.
I’ll bold the stuff that really bugs me:
· Electronic submissions will NOT be accepted.
· You must submit (4) copies of each script. Please include the title somewhere on the first page of each copy, but no author name. Please only staple the top left of each short play copy. One acts and full lengths may include clips or binders.
· Please include a character breakdown: gender, ages, genre and description with each script.
· Do not include your name on the (4) copies. Make sure not to identify the author in headers, footers, etc.
· Please submit a single separate information page for each play you enter. Include the following information:
1. TITLE OF PLAY 3. ADDRESS AND EMAIL
2. AUTHOR’S NAME 4. PHONE NUMBER(S)
· Scripts will be recycled and not returned. Copyright licenses always remain with the author(s).
Submissions must be postmarked by Friday,….
Okay, Class, these are the problems: No electronic submissions, and you must not only mail (that includes shipping and postage money, people), but you have to send not 1, not 2, but 4 copies of your script!! If you get your scripts printed outside the home (and don’t work in an office where you can sneakily use their laser jet printer, that can be up to $50 in printing…and you still have to ship it! How is this NOT a submission fee?
How can we “boycott” submission fees and not boycott this?
You’re answer to me is probably, “Jewbana, then you don’t have to submit.” And I will say, “I won’t.” Followed by, “Suck it!” Look. I’m not gonna lie to you good people of the internet, I want to be liked, and I want to be successful as a playwright, but why should I go broke and kill trees in the process? The theatre, especially the bigger ones like Fire House have budgets and printers and copy machines, I know it takes 600 theatre folks to get a copy machine to work — but seriously. I don’t understand how we can say that it’s unfair to ask for a submission fee and not consider printing 4 copies and postage as a submission fee?
Gary Garrison of the Dramatist Guild said:
As of today, the Guild will no longer publicize calls for
submissions that have a fee attached unless that fee is transparent (where does the money go and to whom) in the description to the reader. The subtext: it is not okay to charge a dramatist a fee to supplement a theatre or producer’s production opportunity. YOUR ART IS FEE ENOUGH!
So, that being said, if I am being charged a $10-30 submission fee, but they let me know it covers the cost of printing that they are going to do on their end, so that I don’t have to print and mail my script, then maybe it is okay? Still that’s a lot of money to print my scripts and then recycle them and print someone’s script on the back. That’s a lot of money (period).
But Gary continues, and this is where I really feel he should be on my side about electronic submissions only:
If a theatre or producer tacks on an additional $10, $15
or $30 fee, one submission now costs anywhere from $20-50, with no guarantees that anything will come of it. And yes, I know: there are no guarantees for anyone in the theatre. But all too often this feels like, “we’re not going to guarantee you anything, AND we’re going to charge you for the privilege of that, AND you’ll probably never hear from us, AND don’t expect any kind of critical reaction to your material, AND don’t expect notification of who, in fact, was chosen.” And if it’s not a money issue then it’s a spirit issue: it’s demeaning enough to submit your work to theatres and producers that you never hear from. To pay someone for their silence is too much to ask anyone…… we will no longer list an opportunity that requires you pay a fee to be considered for inclusion.
Enough is enough.
Theatre’s will not guarantee acknowledgement that they have even received your script, let alone, as Gary says, there is no guarantee that your script will get chosen — so you are paying for someone else’s play to get produced. If I print 4 copies of a script and mail it to you, I want to know you received it, and I want to feel like the money it takes me to print and mail my scripts is being acknowledged.
To sum this all up, I would almost rather pay a $10 submission fee than spend $50 printing script, killing trees, and wasting ink — where in many cases the company will receive a script read the character breakdown, decide it’s not what they are looking for and toss the script into a recycling bin or feed it to their pet shredder.
I say, Enough is enough! No more hard copy scripts!
I was on the Amtrak the other day and writing a paper for grad school, and needed to clear my head for the moment to talk about points.
No. These are not Weight Watcher points. These are the points given to playwrights/productions at theatre festivals nationwide. (Maybe even world wide)
This past week I had the pleasure and privilege to have one of my plays featured in a play festival/competition in NYC. It was a wonderful experience and I am in no way ungrateful— I’m actually super grateful and honored— but I’ll get to that. And this festival, like may others, is divided over the course of a couples of weeks, in which 31 plays compete for 4 spots in the finals, in which they have a chance to win $1000! Pretty sweet! But unlike some festivals, where the finalists are chosen by a team of “expert” judges, the shows moving on to the finals will be determined by how many votes they get from audience members (1 being the lowest, 5 being the highest). For many nights this becomes a popularity contest (yes, you thought you got rid of those in High School, after you went 4 years without a prom king/queen nomination).
Basically, if you have more people coming to the show specifically to see your play, you will have the highest score. Friends and Family are GREAT voters because they are incredibly unbiased… I kid. But to be honest, if my friends came to see my play and didn’t score me a 5, I’d be pretty bummed. Then again I would never ask them to give the other 2 plays I competed against a 1 — I’m competitive but not bitchy. I told my family/friends to vote for the other plays based on merit.
Whether or not my play was the best, I do believe it was, but what playwright doesn’t? It’s not wrong to believe that you wrote and your director and actors performed a kick ass play. But it’s always sort of a bummer to feel like you won’t move forward because you didn’t have 50+ family members and friends who could make it.
The reason I’m even saying any of this is because I overheard an audience member turn to her friend and say something like this, in regards to scoring my play, “I think this one was really good, so I’m gonna give it a 1, so (insert name of playwright she came to support her) wins.”
What that means is that some people do come to these festivals and don’t vote based on merit but vote to move their friends forward and that alone… look I can’t judge, but can feel a little sad about it. It was nice to hear her say it was “really good.”
So now here is my question, is there a way to make the festivals where the audience scores the plays fairer? I don’t know. I think there will always be that person who just gives his friend the highest score, because.
I’ve also experienced play competitions where the audience was told “You can vote between 1-10, but don’t really vote any lower than 7, and feel free to use decimal points,” and then anyone who gave a score lover than 8.2 was booed, and scores above 9.5 were cheered! This particular festival also asks for unbiased audience members to do the voting… now, come on, how many people come to see 10 minute play festivals who don’t know someone involved in the productions?
Here is one solution a friend (a director in Boston) once pondered to me… I don’t know if it would work, but it’s worth a try!
Let’s say you are scoring a play between 1-10 points. You’re given a score card, that looks like this: (click the link to see the card).
Rather than giving a play a random number, you are at least given the criteria in which a play can be judged. Especially, since lots of your family and friends might not be theatre people, they might not know how to look at a play critically and even though they’ll probably still give you the highest score, because they love you, this might give the other plays you are competing against a fair chance. Now, I know this might make you think, “Oh shit! Now someone else might win even though I’ve got the biggest crowd!” But, you won’t always have the biggest crowd, and wouldn’t you want to be treated fairly when you represent the minority of the audience? I think so.
So yes, this rubric might not solve the worlds problems, but I think if more play festivals used something like this, rather than some arbitrary scoring system, the results might be less about popularity and more about talent and skill — especially when there is money on the line for one lucky production!
So that’s my rant for today… I think… But just an FYI, I did mention that my play was just in a competition this past week, and I want to make it clear that this isn’t a response to me not making it to the final round, because I haven’t found out yet and wont really know for another couple of days. But it’s something I have been feeling and thinking about for a long time, as I continue to enter competitions.
Also, I promised lots of gratefulness! Here it is! I am so grateful and honored to have had not 1 but 3 performances of my “little play that could” on 42nd and 8th in NYC! We were right across the street from all the sparkly lights and marquees! My cast and director were fan-fucking-tastic and I am so honored and delighted to have worked with them. Also, I am so thankful of the theatre company that accepted my play into the festival and I am so glad and grateful to have had a production produced with that company! I look forward to working with them again soon!
There are 2 chances left to see The Muse at Manhattan Rep's Spring One Act Competition -- and yes, it's a competition! So that means the more of my fans that come and vote for me, the greater the possibility of me winning and making lots of money! Mwhahahahahah!
Performance times: 9pm on Fri May 11 and Sat May 12th.
Location: 303 West 42nd St. Corner of 8th, on the 6th floor!
For tickets you can buy at the door or email MRTreserve@gmail.com. Tix are $20 --- but I can always supplement that with drinks afterwards!
If I update this blog... that's probably a sign that I'm not writing... I should be writing. Right now.