I still say your statement about theater is sour grapes.
You can say whatever you want. I don't care. Any criticism of the system is often dismissed as sour grapes. That's why the system never changes. Just because something works for the top 1% of the population doesn't mean that it's a good system, or that it shouldn't be changed. Remember, any time poor people criticize our economic system, they get nailed with a "class envy" charge.
I'm not saying theater is bad. I'm not even saying theater people are bad - though I've certainly said that in the past. Instead, I'm saying that the system that mainstream/regionals indulge in is bad. Viva la difference.
It would be a good idea to change that system.
You still sound bitter.
People who criticize theater are usually slammed for being bitter or whatever. It's as if playwrights have to prove how tough they are, how much grief they can take, how many dues they paid to get produced. It's self-flagellation, plain and simple. If that's your gig, then that's your life. It used to be my thing, but life's too short. Besides, I wasn't convinced that I liked getting produced. For me, getting published is far better.
I loved theater as an actress, and even as a stage manager. But watching my stuff onstage didn't warm my heart. It felt empty, and I'm still not sure why.
If you hated theater so much, why did you stay with it for so long?
I didn't hate theater. Must I keep repeating that? Seriously, what's up with the black and white thinking?
I loved playwriting. That's why I stayed. And I kept thinking that if I was going to be respected as a writer I had to go out and try to get the big awards and big productions. My heart wasn't in it because it wasn't what I really wanted to do.
I still love playwriting. I'm more naturally a playwright. The thought process is still there. When I get an idea, it usually comes as a scene or a play. And then I have to translate it to other forms. The process is worth it. In many ways, I'm a refugee. The old world was so broken in my view that I had to leave it.
What's it like - leaving theater?
Good. There's plenty of resources in the new world.
There are two things that are odd. The first is that I don't have to work as hard. Most playwrights have an extremely strong work ethic. They're used to working long hours to support themselves and then coming home to work long hours writing. Often there's no payoff in sight. I'm used to putting in 60-80 hours a week writing and researching - 40 hours for my day job and the rest for my real job. In any other field, that work ethic would lead to tremendous success. In theater, it's just a fairly normal thing. So I'm getting used to the idea that I no longer have to work so hard all the time.
The second is getting to connect with an audience. As a playwright, I rarely got the feeling that I was connecting with people. Blindly submitting plays didn't work for me. If I had to do it all over again, I'd probably follow Nosedive's model. Self-producing is the way to go, as far as I'm concerned. There's no sense of trying to impress the gatekeepers. I spent far too much time doing that.
The toughest part of leaving is getting over the idea that I don't have to rescue theater. I stayed for a while out of a sense of responsibility to "fix it." Like I said before, I'm not in a position to fix it. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders when I admitted that to myself.
What if someone asked to produce your plays today?
I don't know. It's something I'm thinking about. Part of the problem with leaving is how to frame the past. I can't deny that I've been a part of theater, that it was a huge part of my life. That's still open-ended for me. I'm not going to send new plays out. No more submissions. I do know that.
I strongly suspect that if I was a playwright in the U.K., I wouldn't have had to leave. The system is different there, and I noticed that the reactions to my work over there were more considered. I liked it there... But I'm just thinking out loud.
Now can we talk something else? All of this is old news.