Playwrights rarely want to admit this, but playwrighting is a highly competitive endeavor. I am speaking here about the possibility of getting one’s play produced a Major Regional that could afford to pay you enough to cover your bills for a few months, because that’s really the best one can hope for as a non-resident playwright. I believe there are about 50 Major Regionals that produce new plays. They produce usually 1 or 2, so let’s average it and say 1.5, or 75 discrete slots for new plays a year. NNPN (National New Play Network) has five rolling premieres of 5 plays at 5 theaters. While this is a wonderful idea, and fantastic for the playwrights chosen, it means that for everyone else there are now 50 discrete slots, spread across the country. To put that in perspective, NFL football teams carry 53 players on their roster, your chance of getting a production slot at any major regional in the country for a season is less than your chance of ending up on any one particular NFL football team for a season. One of the differences I see is that professional football players have acknowledged this, and commit themselves fully to doing whatever they need to get into (or back into) the league. One standard choice players make is the hiring of a coach who will develop and put into action an individualized program for them.
That’s what I offer as a dramaturg, the ability to create with you a program tailored to you that will give you the best chance at achieving your goals. Like any coach, I can’t promise success. Some things we would look at are technical. What do you do well? Plot? Character? Arc? Language usage? Resolution? Dialogue? Can we make those areas even stronger? What areas need improvement? Most importantly, though, is the question of what you bring to the world of playwrighting that is yours alone. What’s your unique voice? What do you need to say? How do we match your strengths up with an open space in the cultural / theatrical ecology?
I know this all seems very theoretical, so let me ground it with an example. One writer I worked with was writing rural, realistic, working-class drama. The work was very good, but there are quite a few writers exploring that subgenre, some of them quite celebrated. This made it very hard to break in, because there as very little room. As we worked together, we discovered that she also had a knack for extremely dark comedy grounded in a rigorous feminist analysis. It was a niche no one else was exploring, and now she is beginning to enjoy the success that she has always deserved.
I realize that there are many of you reading this who are saying, “I don’t need this – I just write”, or “I have friends who look at my stuff and give me feedback.” While this approach has value, I know that any of us go to a therapist for our mental health, or to an acupuncturist or personal trainer for our physical health. We do this because we recognize that the person in question has skills that neither we nor our friends possess. Dramaturgs also possess a unique group of skills that often took us years to acquire. As a playwright, doesn’t it make sense to consult us regarding your career health?
The services I’ve listed above are deeper, career -based examinations. I also offer more focused script consulting, process dramaturgy, and application evaluation services which can be found on my Services and Prices page.