Friday, April 27, 2012

Good Advice From The Guy Who Just Dumped You

I wanted to drop in a block quote from my recent reading - Christian Parker's article, "The Art of the Breakup" at The article, it seems to me, is a call for clearer communication between playwrights and the literary managers at institutional theaters. I recommend a full read, but these lines caught my attention:
"I am so tired of having lunches, drinks, and meetings with playwrights who cannot decipher the messages they are getting from theaters, and show me copies of endlessly nit-picky and detailed letters offering critical dramaturgical feedback from people they don’t know, and who, in most cases presumably don’t like their work enough to advance it. Playwrights need to solicit and accept feedback only from those people that they respect, trust, and rely on.
I know I've been a party to similar exchanges from the literary manager's side, although that isn't my title. I will confess that there were times when I declined to work on a play because we didn't have the resources to produce it, and I will allow that there were other instances when a lack of resources was a convenient excuse for declining a play I didn't really believe in.  To console myself for causing a disappointment, I may have offered some suggestions.  The cloud of confusion that Parker describes is generally the result.

Parker wishes these professional disappointments could be like the best possible romantic disappointments: "Rejections," he writes, "as in 'real life,' should be gracious, clean, and quick. Of course, I don't remember any disappointments like that from my real life.  What a delightful idea, though!

Commission playwrights: do you have any stories to share about the mixed messages and unwanted advice you've received when shopping your plays?

- Kyle Ancowitz

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