Last night I went to a reading of playwright Kate Fodor’s Rx organized by a very talented actor I know. It was a relaxed vibe and a lot of fun, and the play was pretty incredible. It’s about a pharmaceutical company develops a drug that alleviates workplace unhappiness. It was a cold reading, but the actors were so good, it was hard to believe. He said he organized the reading series not for new play development or structured networking, but because having a reading series of quality plays has so much intrinsic value. He also said it would be great to get more non-theater people coming to the Monday readings.
I think it’s so important to make theater less insular. I was talking to my friend Laura about this, and we were griping that so much of the shows we’ve done attract “theater people” and our friends. How can we expand that audience?
Anyhow – on a different note – I keep thinking about how to present yourself as a playwright.
When you tell someone you’re a playwright, usually the next question is “What have I seen that you’ve done?” or “What are you working on?” To the first one, the chances are more than likely no – unless, Oh, I don’t know, if you happened to be in that tiny, makeshift theater space in Bushwick last summer, maybe you did.
And when people ask what I’m working on, I have trouble putting it into words. Gary Garrison had some good insight into this.
He said something really simple that resonated with me. He said you have to be enthusiastic about your own work. Which makes me think of all those times people ask me what I’m working on now, and my look of confusion takes over my face as I begin to ramble a mixture of theme, plot, movies, plays with any kind of loose association to the inspiration behind my idea – and it becomes this garbled, jumbled mess. I usually end up sounding completely confused and more nervous than excited about my own work.
It just got me thinking about how contagious enthusiasm really is, if we’re excited about our own plays and can really market them – whether that means formulating sound bites about our plays or starting conversations about what we’re working on.