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As I type this I am in the process of reading script submissions. As we near the point where the final decisions have to be made about our 2012 season I feel the need to go through a marathon of reading to feel certain we haven't missed out on the next brillaint opportunity. This process frequently leaves me shouting random expletives at the empty room in frustration.
I adore reading new plays. When I find something strikingly interesting or poignant or even better - thought provoking it makes me squeal in excitement. I champion that play, personally taking it to every member of our team radiating excitement I hope will be contagious. But, and this is a big but, let's be honest here - reading through scripts can be uttering draining and infuriating. Sure, we have submission requirements and requests to make it more successful for everyone involved, but not everyone follows them. In additon there are some concepts so simple they're not part of our guidelines until we realize there are people out there who don't know them.
So, ladies and gents, here are a few of my greivances:
- Do not send me only a synopsis or a portion of your play. Submit the full play or nothing at all. It takes you no more time, but it saves me both time and effort. It is your job to sell me on your product and I cannot do that without the complete product. Once I have decided I would like to produce your script I will chase you down, not before.
- Number your pages! Such a small thing, but page numbers helps me determine an approximate runtime. Also, should we produce your script, we'll need those numbers for rehearsals in a big bad way.
- Give me a list of characters with basic descriptions. I don't care what you call it, but this should be in your script, right after the title page. I need to know male/female ratio, ages, cast size, and if applicable race or other details to know if we could have a reasonable expectation of casting your play.
- I love google docs, but don't send me your script in that format if you at all help it. Google docs are living documents, meaning that I could reading as you are making changes. I think its fabulous you want to keep working on your play, but I need to know that the script I am signing a contract to produce is the same script I read and loved. If you have an updated version you prefer we use, let me know when I contact you, I'll be happy to read the changes.
- Know how long your play is. If your script is 63 pages of dialogue, chances are it is not a full length - especially if you have it divided into two acts. If you're unsure how long your script really is find some people and have them sit down and read it out loud, that will give you an idea. Then think about how a theatre would put that script into an evening. My general rule of thumb is: 1 page of dialogue = 1 minute of stage time:
1-20 minutes = short play
21-75 minutes = one act play
76+ minutes = full length play
There's a lot of wiggle room in that, but if I am specifically looking for a full length and your cover letter and/or title page misrepresent the actual length of your play I will have wasted my time.
- Please think carefully before using the following: excessive foul language, violence, nudity, rape, or incest. These things can make for amazing stories if used properly, but used carelessly they can cheapen your script or make it impossible to stage.
- Do not provide casting, scenic/costume/tech design, or directing advice/suggestions unless you feel they are absolutely integral to telling the story.
That said, sometimes breaking these rules is what sets you apart, just be certain you know you trust your decision to be the one for your script before submitting. One script won me over to its oddities with ridiculously long stage directions that were cleverly written with a lot of humor.
Happy writing! And here's hoping your script will be the one to cause my next little giddy campaign.
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