Getting my play produced, #3: being a detective

Why find a theater who will love your play?

The other day on Playwrights Forum, I saw a link to an article titled “How the World’s Most Frequently Rejected Playwright Survives.”

Here’s the link:

The writer of this article gives some droll but sobering statistics about his submission history. “The likelihood that your unsolicited script will be rejected or totally ignored by a theater is 99.75%.”


“A little more than 41% of your scripts won’t even be read.”

I’m guessing a lot of playwrights have this experience. But there’s got to be a better way. That’s why I’m trying this process.

Finding out what Theatre Three loves

I’m at Theatre Three’s Web site.

Theatre Three has two stages. On their main stage this year: Beehive, The 60’s Musical, Sherlock Holmes in the Crucifer of Blood, 33 Variations, The Drowsy Chaperone, Travesties, The Roads to Home, and Pippin.

Their second stage they call a “basement studio theatre.” This season: Flaming Guns of the Purple Sage, Songs from an Unmade Bed, Tales from Mount Olympus, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them, Language of Angels.

I can’t find a production history on their site, but knowing their current season is a start.

They do have a page with a general history of the theater on which they say:

“Theatre Too currently houses a six show season (running between August and June) of original plays, adaptations of literary works, musical revues, and biographical drama.”

“Original plays!”

Sounds good. 🙂

A quick and dirty way of learning about the plays a theater produces

Now I want to figure out if my play fits with the kind of plays they produce.

What I’m looking for is anything about the plays they produce that indicates that they won’t love my play. For instance, type of play, subject matter, size of cast, type of set, length of play. I had a theater reject “Lessons from Moonshine,” based on a query, because – they said – their audience would grow restless during set changes. This play is a lot of short scenes that need to flow, so it needs a flexible set. Clearly, that theater doesn’t use flexible sets that can be changed quickly. Not a good fit, right?

Back to Theatre Three.  I’ve seen productions of some of the plays doing this season. I might want to read the others, but let’s try something quick and dirty. Samuel French, Dramatists Play Service, and Playscripts all have synopses of the plays they publish, available on their Web sites. (I truly do love the Web. I was there in the early days, and oh how it’s grown. Moving on…)

So… after looking at all of the publishers’ information for the plays I haven’t seen, the only barrier I can see to Theatre Three accepting this play is that it’s a long one act. As far as I can tell, none of the plays they are producing this season is a long one act.

This isn’t as lame as it might sound. The guy who was artistic director of a theater here in Seattle for several years, told me something interesting. They loved a long one act they produced, but not having bar sales during intermission cut the revenues by about the amount of royalties they would pay.

I’m not saying we should write plays with intermissions so theaters can sell more liquor, but it’s a practical fact, especially in today’s economy.

Looking at reviews

Why look at reviews? Because reviewers will give you more clues about the work the theater does and how they do it. Also, I can find out other plays they’ve produced.

Apparently they put “The Drowsy Chaperone” in a very small space, and did it successfully. One of the reviews says they did it in the round. That reminds me that I should check their site to see if they say anything about the configuration of their stages. Ah ha! Yes, their main stage does have seating on four sides.

Their second stage apparently can be set up in different configurations. Their next show has it in a “U” configuration.

Back to the reviews. One reviewer said they put an intermission in “The Drowsy Chaperone,” which is 90 minutes. Perhaps they don’t care for long one-acts.

I wonder if “Lessons from Moonshine” could have an optional intermission? But it’s only 80 minutes. I think that would chop the play up too much, and the audience might feel cheated with such short acts.

Theatre Three did “[ title of show ]” in spring 2010. Reviewers seem to mention profanity, so I guess their readers don’t care for it. No profanity in my play.

“Lost in the Stars” in 2009. A reviewer writing in the Wall Street Journal, says that Theatre Three is “one of Dallas is oldest and most solidly established companies.”

They did “Light in the Piazza” in 2008. That show started here in Seattle. So I’m pleased to see that Theatre Three did so well with it.

So far, I think they would like “Lessons from Moonshine.” Except that it’s a long one-act. But I still think it’s worth a try.

Plans for Next Time

  • look on their site and find out what they want for a submission

Talk to you next time!


About playwrightsmuse

Get produced, get published, let your brilliance shine! Follow along as we go through a step-by-step process for getting plays produced with the least amount of heartbreak and wasted postage and printing costs.
This entry was posted in Getting my play produced -- "Lessons from Moonshine", How to find Theaters who will Love your Plays, Submitting to Theatre 3, Dallas. Bookmark the permalink.

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