Do you want to get more productions, with less heartache and less money wasted on postage and printing? Target your submissions carefully. Here’s how to do it.
I’ve posted a bunch of ideas about this in the category How to find Theaters who will Love your Plays. This is a summary.
Figure out who would like your play.
This can be kinds of people, i.e., Wall Street bankers, environmentalists, Catholics. It can also be theaters, i.e., theaters who produce plays that provoke discussion about social issues, or theaters who produce farces.
When you have readings of your plays, ask the audience who they think would like your plays. Let your theater friends read the play, and ask them the same question.
Search for those theaters.
Be a detective – Google is your friend. Wall Street bankers live in the New York area, environmentalists in Washington and Oregon, Catholics in the Southwest and the Northeast.
Or, you can search for theaters who have produced plays that are similar to yours.
Make sure they take submissions.
Look around for information about whether they take submissions. My advice, if they don’t say outright that they accept submissions, don’t submit to them. If they don’t say outright that they do, they probably don’t.
Also, submitting your plays is a lot of work, so don’t waste your time, postage, and printing costs on theaters who will just put your submission in the trash.
Investigate the theaters that take submissions.
Double check that your play is right for them. Look at the theater’s production history; see if they do plays similar to yours.
Go to their page for purchasing tickets, see if you can find information about what kind of stage they have and what size house. If your play needs to be produced in the round, a theater with a proscenium isn’t the best place for your play.
You can even look for reviews of their productions, for more clues about what they like.
Format your script in some version of standard format.
The way you present yourself will tell a theater whether or not they want to work with you. So use a format that looks like you know what you’re doing.
Does standard format seem like an unnecessary pain in the ass? It doesn’t have to be. It can be easy with some Helpful Software.
Submit what they ask for.
Submit what they ask for, and only what they ask for.
They might ask for the entire script, or they might ask for an excerpt.
They might ask for a synopsis. Here’s some information on How to write a Synopsis.
They might ask for a cover letter. Here’s How to write Cover Letters.
Make it easy for them to let you know they received your submission.
If you’re submitting by mail, include a self-addressed postcard. If the theater is in the same country as you, put a stamp on the postcard. If the theater is not in the same country as you, you could include some money to cover the cost of the stamp. The US doesn’t sell international reply coupons anymore, but maybe your country does.
On the postcard, write some note to yourself so you know which theater is sending it back to you. I usually write something like “Play X received by Theater Y.”
Wish your submission bon voyage, and move on.
Move on to investigating another place to submit your play. Or return to a play you’re working on.
Don’t contact the theater to see if they received your script. Literary managers and artistic directors are swamped with submissions; don’t make their life harder by bugging them. They’ll get back to you when they can.