After consultation with a variety of people, I wanted to take a moment to re-cast the Playwrights Wish List so that it was, in fact, more clearly a list of wishes. Rather than indicating what “should” or shouldn’t be, I’m thinking it’s more appropriate to lay out what we “wish” were the case, in the hope that theaters around the country will perhaps be willing to grant our wishes.
I’ve made this change in the spirit of openness and dialogue that has currently pervaded the theatrical ecosystem; I feel as if theaters are actually genuinely willing to listen, and if they are, there’s no need go about demanding this or that. (If they were less open, however… all bets would be off.)
In exchange for these wishes, mind you, we’re going to need to promise or offer a few things in return. Look for a post on that subject in the coming weeks.
In the meantime: if you’re on board with this list of wishes, will you consider “signing” your name to it in the comments, in any way you like? Of course, all of them are still up for debate and consideration: all input is welcome. I may be the steward here, but this is — to be sure — everybody’s list.
Submissions: Nuts and Bolts
- We wish that no playwright would ever receive a rejection letter that begins with anything resembling “Dear [INSERT NAME OF PLAYWRIGHT HERE]” or that’s addressed to the wrong person.
- We wish no playwright would ever receive a rejection letter that includes a significant misspelling, either of the playwright’s name or the title of the play.
- We wish that theaters, development programs, and contests would standardize on what constitutes a play sample: 10 pages, 15 pages, 20 pages. We prefer a longer sample, but standardization is of paramount importance. We would also be willing to consider doing away with sample entirely and replacing them with the submission of an entire script along with an indication of which 10 or 20 pages to review.
- We wish that theaters, development programs, and contests would abandon any other esoteric submission requirements: demands that several different files be combined into a single PDF, or that an extra title page be created, or that bios be limited to a random number of words. We wish instead that a standard set of straightforward requirements would be adopted.
- We wish that no playwright would ever be asked for a letter of reference in support of an application or submission.
- We wish that theaters, development programs, and contests everywhere would stop asking for paper submissions; for the sake of reducing costs and protecting the planet, we wish that all submissions would be handled electronically.
- We wish that all theaters, development programs, or contests would eliminiate submission fees of any kind.
Submissions: Selection Criteria
- We wish that all submissions for development programs and contests would be blind; we would prefer that our work be judged on its own merits, not on any other criteria.
- We wish that all submissions for theaters should also be blind during the first round of review and selection.
- We wish that theaters, development programs, and contests would not inquire as to the educational status of a playwright nor use that status as a criterion for submissions.
- We wish that theaters would replace the “never before produced scripts only” criteria with a less restrictive “no more than two prior productions” criteria.
- We wish that playwrights would be allowed to re-submit scripts when substantial revisions have been completed.
- We wish that all submissions for theaters, development programs, and contests would be as transparent as possible.
- We wish that all theaters, development programs, and contests would publish the names and bios of judges, reviewers, and script readers prior to opening submissions.
- We wish that, to whatever extent possible, theaters, development programs, and contests would honestly indicate why a given play has or has not been selected after it has received extensive consideration.
Submissions: Best Practices
- We wish that theaters, development programs, and contests would respond to every submission — not personally, but at least with a form response. We do not consider it courteous or acceptable to let silence stand in for rejection.
- We wish that all theaters, development programs, and contests would publish a maximum turnaround time for review of submissions and hold themselves accountable to the dates they publish.
- We wish that no more infantile language would be used to describe play development: no cradles, no incubators, no hatcheries.
- We wish that the term “emerging” (as in “she’s an emerging playwright”) would be eliminated from all discourse about playwrights.
- We wish that a higher percentage of plays produced in any given geographic area were written by playwrights who live in that geographic area than is currently the case.
- We wish that more theaters nationwide would have playwrights on staff (or at least in long-tenured resident dramatist positions).
- We wish that more theaters nationwide would add playwrights to their artistic advisory boards.
- We wish that there were genuine, demonstrable gender and racial parity in the authorship of work selected by theaters, development programs, and contests.