I wish I had an agent. Then again, like a dog chasing cars, I’m not entirely sure that I’d know what to do if I had one.
I’ve been close before. I made an attempt, a few years ago, to solicit agents, and although there was some significant interest, nothing materialized. I took the news moderately hard at first… but a life in the theater gets one rather accustomed to blind alleys and dead ends, so I quickly moved on. The attention paid to my work has continued to grow since then, and I’ve still kept writing and getting produced. When I’ve had contracts to review and money matters to negotiate, I’ve handled them myself to the best of my ability. It hasn’t really been all that hard.
Sure, there have been limitations: I’m unable to share my scripts with theaters that only accept agented scripts—that’s the primary difficulty. But I’ve just tried to ignore that little complication, at least for now. And from what I understand from my playwright friends who DO have agents, they still land most (if not all) of their productions by force of their own charm and talent and will anyway. That’s exactly what I’m doing. So?
About the only reason I want an agent—and this is difficult to admit, but I believe in honesty—is that it would feel really, really good. Some part of me believes that having an agent would brand me as One Seriously Talented Playwright Not to Ignore.
But I think the truth is probably a bit like the classic squares-and-rectangles geometric proof: all playwrights with agents are talented, but not all talented playwrights have agents. And I think most theaters and theater practitioners know that, too. Given how little money there is in writing for the stage—and thus how few agents our industry can support—it has to be clear to virtually everyone that there aren’t enough agents for every playwright who deserves one. Agents may still be arbiters of talent, to some extent—desirable imprimaturs of quality—but I don’t think it’s hard for a theater to find good work without representation.
At the end of the day, not having an agent seems a bit like being deprived of a luxury item I don’t really need so much anyway.
And yet… I feel like I do. A little. I haven’t gone back to “chasing cars” again, but I would still like to have one… even if I’m less sure why.