Playwright FAQ

Q: What kind of play should I write? What are theaters and/or agents looking for?

A: First and foremost, write something that you yourself would want to watch. If there is a subject or style that you connect to, start there. Check out local theaters and festivals. What type of work is being produced? Some theaters and festivals have requests for plays with a specific theme or length (i.e. One Acts) that may appeal to you.

 

Q: I’ve written my play…now what?

A: Work and Rework it! Get unbiased opinions about your work. Have others read your play and offer feedback. Finally, hold a staged reading. Plays are meant to be seen and heard. You can’t get an accurate idea of how your play will be received without getting it on its feet in front of an audience. A staged reading is a great opportunity to see what works and what doesn’t, get feedback from others, and make revisions if necessary, before sending it out into the world. A reading can be nothing more than getting a few friends over to read your work out loud. Or if you have the means and/or the connections, inviting producers, directors, and other writers to watch a polished reading of your script by professional actors. Either way, it will be a beneficial part of the process.

Once your play is at its best you have three choices.

1)     You can shop your script around and try to get an agent.

2)     You can try to get your script published.

3)     You can try to get your play produced.

Plays that have had a least one fully staged professional production with published reviews are more likely to be accepted by a publishing company or get you an agent, because it shows marketability. There is an exception. If your play is kid friendly and incorporates a large cast you have a good chance of being published and having your play performed at high schools or middle schools, which can be financially advantageous.

 

Q: How do I get my play produced?

A: There are many options for new playwrights. Check out small local theaters or play festivals. These organizations often look for new works and are a great way to get your work and your name circulating. Professional recommendations are always beneficial. If you know someone who can put in a good word for you, great! Use it!

Theaters:

Smaller, independent theaters tend to be more open to taking a risk on a new play or playwright. Check with the theater to see if they are accepting submissions and if they have any guidelines. Some will want the entire script, others only want a few pages and a cover letter, and still others will want a character breakdown and synopsis. Whatever they ask for is what you send along with a SASE (self addressed stamped envelope) or a stamped postcard for their response. If you are not sure if a theater accepts submissions you can send a query.

Festivals:

Most festivals have submission dates or specific types of work they are looking for so check their websites for rules about play length, subject matter, or other specifications. Some major festivals like the New York Fringe charge a large fee to be included if chosen and a percentage of any profits your show makes above a certain point, so make sure you know all the rules before entering. Smaller festivals specifically geared towards emerging playwrights charge a much smaller fee.

Produce Your Own Play:

There is always the option of independently producing your play. It can be relatively inexpensive if you are creative in how you stage it. It’s a lot of responsibility to take on theater rental, staging, casting, marketing, etc. But it can also be very rewarding to see your work fully realized on stage.

 

Q: What’s a Query Letter?

A: A query consists of a one-page cover letter briefly explaining who you are and the play you have written. Include information about any productions of the play, readings or workshops that you’ve done, awards or recognition, or any information that would be relevant to the history of the piece. You may also include a one-page synopsis of the play or sample pages.  Do not submit more than 10 pages as a sample. Theaters receive hundreds of queries; you want to make it as easy as possible for them to read your work. Finally, always send a SASE for their response.

 

Q: How do I get my play published?

A: You can submit your play for publication with a number of play publishers. Each will have their own requirements so make sure you follow their submission guidelines. For the most part, publishers do not want unsolicited scripts, so begin with a query letter and wait for a response.

Keep in mind that publishing your play will not guarantee it will be produced. You will still have to be your own advocate in marketing your play to theaters, though having your work accepted by an established publishing company doesn’t hurt.

 

Q: How do I get an Agent?

A: The best possible scenario would be to get a referral from an established playwright or other theater professional. If you don’t have someone to vouch for you then you begin by sending a query letter with a sample of your work. Most agents won’t consider a playwright who hasn’t had at least one play professionally produced, so make sure its the right time for you to be searching for an agent.

 

Q: Can I submit to more than one agent or publisher at a time?

A: The standard rule is no. Most agents and publishers would prefer to be the only one with the option to take you on as a client or publish your work. However, if you do choose to submit to multiple agencies you should inform each one that your work is also being considered by other agencies.

 

Q:  Have a question you’d like answered?  

A: Feel free to send it to us:  ask {at} ScriptsandScribes [dot] com