Monday, October 24, 2005

the evil of submission fees

There has been a discussion on the big cheap list about the practice of charging playwrights to read their scripts, something I regularly rail against. Not only do I find it unethical but…well Jason says it best below. Jason Grote on submission fees: Well, I can say that there was a time in my life when I literally had to choose between play submission fees and rent, or feeding myself, sothere are cases when it does happen. Today, I can afford the fees, but I usually don't pay them (with the exception of Sundance, the O'Neill, and the occasional screenplay contest). My decision is not entirely based on principle, butbecause, in my experience, the theaters charging the fees usually suck. Based mostly on having seen their work, reading their mission statements and other items on their websites, or on occasion having read the winning plays in their contests, I feel comfortable saying that a reader's fee is almost always a sign of unprofessionalism. When I think of all the financially strapped small theater groups I know who do quality work, none of them charge submission fees. It might take them a year to get to your script, but that's the way it goes... Footnote(Since posting this on the Big Cheap list, I have since discovered that Moving Arts, a small company that I have heard good things about, charges fees for their one-act contest. I guess they're the exception that makes the rule.)

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think playwrights should unite - through the Dramatists Guild and beyond - and officially boycott any company or organization that charges fees to playwrights.

It's a punitive, draconian practice. The reason why the practice continues is, ostensibly, that the Theatre is impoverished. But the idea that playwrights should suffer unduly because of the economic problems of other idividuals or organizations is nothing less than obscene.

If an official boycott were in place, this practice would disappear virtually overnight.

I prefer to leave this message anonymously, mostly because I have the distinct impression that I've been blackballed by the O'Neill after I made my thoughts on this subject known. (They refused to waive my thirty-five dollar application fee.)

But I hope that all other playwrights - if not producing organizations, at least not yet - will take this issue seriously.

Dorothy said...

Yeah . Not to mention that most theatres have assistants intern to the literary managers and these little minions are never paid . If the fees were used to pay the interns who read the scripts , that might be cool. But otherwise, I am with you. It's total bullshit.

Anonymous said...

i would maybe make an exception for the o'neill conference (but only because they read anonymously, and they did a script of mine when i knew no-one, and this is so, so rare..)

Anonymous said...

what's the big cheap list?

Adam said...

Yeah, I make exception for O'Neil. Bigcheap is the LA theatre email list--people in LA talk about theatre, promote shows, etc. It is kind of like what the RATlist was.