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I dig jazz and single-malt scotch.  I write plays; I direct them too. I love STAR WARS more than is healthy. I walk my dogs every day, unless it's raining or terribly cold.

Monday, May 04, 2015

You haven't written your play until you've rewritten your play, a lesson in folly

Me and young Eugene O'Neill laughing it up in New London.
This is an actual series of correspondence to me from a fellow who has written his first play.  Other than obscuring names, this is how the conversation went. When you wonder why literary departments have so many gate-keepers, remember this lesson.

Sent: Thu, Nov 20, 2014 6:00 pm
Subject: Important - assistance requested for my musical play
Good afternoon Mx. MxXxxxxxxx
Your name was passed on by Lxxx Wxxxxxxx, a writer I employed. He is a student of Nxxx Cxxxxxx who recommended you.
I received my copyright claim for my play last week.
I'd appreciate to be contacted as I'm in a bit of a quandary as to what to do next.
On Thursday, November 20, 2014 6:42 PM, Kxxx wrote:
Hello Jxxx --
Has your play been read aloud to you, or workshopped in any way? It takes a while to get any play, but especially a musical, ready to send to theaters.
What dort of musical is it? Are you the sole creator of he work? Let me know a little more about your play's history, and your background in theater.
On Apr 26, 2015, at 5:56 PM, Jxxx wrote:
Good afternoon Kxxx,
Please accept my apologies for not getting back to you sooner. I just saw your e-mail.
Thank you for your inquiry.
To begin I'll be sending you your answers as time permits. 
I have no background in theater and never attended a workshop.
However, I have recently copyrighted my musical and have a local director reading my script.
Don't ask me how but I seem to have a knack for doing this.
I'm looking for a theater to launch my musical play.
In summarization, the play is about 5 students from very different backgrounds and their music teacher attending the same high school.
They learn to greatly appreciate their similarities and differences as well as their on humanity. It's new, refreshingly exhilarating and its free. Also it has a number of catchy tunes that stay in your mind.
For the interested director I'll be happy to furnish a copy of the script and a CD of the musical arrangements.
Of course, I'm available to answer any questions, concerns or interests that the director may have.
Enough for now.
April 26, 2015 at 7:11 PM Kxxx wrote:
Good to hear from you. Glad you have a director taking a look at your materials. Let me know how that goes. Yes, your original message and my reply were some time ago, now that I look back on it.
I have worked for many years as a playwright and theater director. I have also worked at the O'Neill Theater Center for many years, watched new work develop, and continue to serve on their artistic council.
I understand you are new to this.
A lot of work goes into developing a play to make it work as well as it possibly can on the stage.
This is why playwrights usually hear their work read and sung to them, learn what is and is not working, and then do a lot of rewriting. 
You have already passed a hurdle that many people only dream about - you have completed a draft of your work.
If you are having a reading of your work anywhere in the Connecticut area, be sure to let me know. If I am available I would come to your reading. 
A book that I found very helpful when I was starting was a book called "The Script is Finished, Now What Do I Do?" By K Callan. 
I have two books on the subject of writing and workshopping musicals in general that I have found helpful and informative - both are fairly slender - WRITING THE BROADWAY MUSICAL by Aaron Frankel which is a very "how-to" kind of book, and MAKING MUSICALS by Tom Jones which is anecdotal in its approach and describes the business of making a musical.  There are likely better books on the subject, but I don't have those on my shelf.  

A couple of other books that I do have are Stephen Sondheim's FINISHING THE HAT, and LOOK I MADE THE HAT - a double whammy set about his life and thoughts on making musical.  
Here is a group that might be helpful, although I do not have firsthand experience of their services: http://nmi.org/develop/the-incubator/
And this summer you must attend the performances of new musicals at The National Music Theater Conference in Waterford at the O'Neill Theater Center. If you are serious about developing your play, then you have to go see how new work is developed. And it turns out that the finest development process in the entire country happens every summer in Waterford. The best artists are involved, and some of the best writers in the business are creating new work. 
I hope this is helpful. If you'd like to meet sometime to discuss workshop details, perhaps we could meet in New Xxxxx over a beverage. Good luck with your project.
May 3, 2015 at 3:25 pm
Good afternoon Kxxx,
To sum it up, I'm looking for a theater to launch my musical play.
If this is something you can assist me with, I'd love to hear from you.
I have decided not to continue communicating with this guy.