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1000 Playwright Interviews The first interview I posted was on June 3, 2009.  It was Jimmy Comtois.  I decided I would start interview...

Mar 12, 2013

Finding Collaborators

It’s been a while since I posted an actual blog post that I wrote myself that isn’t to promote one of my projects. Here goes.

I’ve been reading a bunch of plays recently for contests and such as well as in my new role as a Lit Mgr for an off off theater in town. (Yes, I’m being intentionally vague)

As a reader of over 200 plays in the last six months, I get really excited each time I read something really good. The other day I read a funny heartfelt play by an emerging writer that I was blown away by. (Again, intentionally vague.  Please don't try to guess.)  I immediately started to wonder who I could show the play to. Was there a theater in New York who could do the play? After a quick google search, I realized the play had already been done and had gotten mixed reviews in New York. The times had not been kind. And I knew a couple of the cast members and knew them to be very talented and I knew the play and knew of the director. And I wondered…

What Went Wrong?

1. Was I mistaken in my assessment of the play? That’s certainly possible, but I don’t think so.

2. Did the play just have bad reviewer luck? Did the wrong people see it and not get it? That is a definite possibility and frequently happens.

3. Were the wrong people involved in the production? Was it miscast? Was it the wrong director? Were there communication problems? Has the very talented writer not yet learned how to explain the play to her collaborators?

It could be any of these but let's suppose it’s # 3. Let me ask you, how did you learn how to find the right people to work with? Does it continue to be a struggle? Do you know when to say no? How does a talented writer learn how to cast and choose a director and work with a team to realize the best possible production of a play.  How do we make necessary compromises while keeping intact the vision and structural integrity of the piece?  How do we find the people who will make the play better than it should be?

I’m still wondering if there are theaters out of town I could recommend the writer send the play to, theaters who are young and exciting. The trouble is, how does one recover from bad reviews? The play which should be published, is not. And what to I say to this writer? And how does one talk theaters into it who are leery of multiple bad reviews?

I don’t have the answer to this. What do you think? Certainly, write the next play. Continue. Can anything be done?

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Lanie said...

Adam, this is a really thought-provoking post. Imagine not only the play you like but other plays throughout history that might have been lost, so to speak. I'm not exactly sure what the answer is. But, perhaps with the new-ish terrain of e-publishing and adventurous companies, something can be done to give additional life to this type of work.

cgeye said...


It's the one block in my progress that I find the hardest, since it comes wrapped up with accepting and modifying work through criticism.

I'm trying to be not so grateful that I'm glad that anyone's reading it, let alone perform it -- and trying to listen whether what the text is communicating is enough, too much, too little?

And, trust is a very big issue. How do you know one path is performed in front of you, then a completely different one when you're gone, as if you're a bad boss in need of placation?

Can you tell this pushes all my buttons, including the ones that rail at the injustice of auditions and headshots, and how an audition mentality has ruined capitalism? *sigh*

cgeye said...

And this is a sadness that I can't comprehend living through:

I've read two of her plays, the savaged one, first, then the praised one, and there's nothing in the savaged one would raise such scorn, save the use of poetry in a prosaic, mundane naturalist time, and subject matter that's usually placed in a more brutalist frame.

The interview, here:

Also referenced here:

Adam Szymkowicz said...

I read and really enjoyed Five Gold Rings. That was many years ago and it wasn't at all right for the theater I was reading for but I liked it enough to remember it still 10 years later. There are a lot of plays that need a very specific kind of production to work and will not work if the tone is even a little off. i'm not sure if that is the case here but I've seen a lot of really good plays suffer from almost-but-not-quite productions.

August Schulenburg said...

Good questions. Sometimes I worry that I don't include enough stage directions in my plays because I'm used to collaborating with people who understand how they work. It can be a shock when I step out of the Flux bubble and go, oh yeah, that's not totally obvious to everyone.