Almost four years ago, on January 25, 2007, I published a post called, “Supporting Your Own (Stop Submitting Plays!)”
In it, I made the point that theater companies across the country should invest in the talents of writers in their own area. I wrote:
“Instead of looking for plays in their own backyard - plays that might reflect local or regional culture - small theaters have a wide open submission policy… The plays that these small companies are producing don't reflect the community they purport to represent. Something that plays in (California, New York) will play differently in (Alabama, Georgia, Texas).”
Recently, a theater company contacted me to ask if I would be interested in submitting a play. It was a thoughtful email. They acknowledged that they knew how I felt about flinging work across the country, and they detailed their efforts toward promoting local playwrights. Still, would I be interested in submitting a play to their company?
Quite frankly, I was flattered that someone took the time to research what I thought about all that. Since The Big Quit, (August 2007), I’ve had no contact with theater companies. I quit playwriting, theater blogging and The Dramatists Guild. Instead, I concentrated on writing entertainment stories and book reviews for a newspaper and its website.
It was a good experience, but I knew that something was missing.
After spending most of 2010 wondering if theater was even an option anymore, I wrote an hour-long one-act play. I was surprised and even relieved that I could still write in that format.
Which brings me to the entry I wrote in 2007. Presently, I’m living in Alabama but I’ve also lived in California, New York, Connecticut and Texas. I’m only local to wherever my two feet are at the moment, and these toes are known for traveling. I’ve written (and continue to write) about a variety of regions. Imposing limits like the ones I suggested in 2007 are silly, especially for writers like me who are local to nowhere.
Supporting area artists is a vital mission for any arts organization. I’ve also witnessed the differences in various regions of the country. It is true that what plays on the coast may not resonate in other parts of the country. It is important that the arts reflect local culture.
In hindsight, the driving force behind my ideas in that January 2007 post was personal connections. Relationships consisting of trust, respect and fun are important in theater. Is it possible for a non-local playwright to form a close working relationship with a director or a theater company? It is something I’ve wondered since returning to playwriting. That, I think, is the bigger question.