Thursday, March 21, 2013

The truth about rejection



I came across a great blog post today from Bitter Gertrude, the funny and, yes, bitter artistic director of Impact Theatre in Berkeley, CA. If you've been submitting your play all over creation and you're not getting produced, Gertie's got tough news.

It's not them. It's you.

Or should I say, your play:

http://bittergertrude.com/2013/03/21/why-your-play-was-rejected/

I would make it even simpler than this. In my own reading of unproduced scripts, I keep seeing the same two faults. Faults that would prevent an otherwise well-written script from ever seeing the glorious light of production.

The first is generic dialogue. This is closely related to one of the items Bitter Gertrude raises: undifferentiated character voices. Yes, every character should reveals their personalities, backgrounds and goals in every line of dialogue they speak. But my concern about generic dialogue goes beyond this.

Each character should also sound different than the people you meet each day. We go to the theater to see interesting people say interesting things. Why would we fork over $25 or more to hear a bunch of people talk who sound just like the co-workers at our day jobs?

"How's it going, Bob?"

"Not bad, Jim. How about you?"

"It could be better."

Blehhhhh.

The second fault is lack of direction. No, your story shouldn't follow a formula (that's what film is for). And no, we shouldn't be able to see the ending of your play coming from a mile away.

But from the very first scene, we should know where it's headed. What is the main conflict? How does the main character intend to resolve it? And how each of the secondary characters aid or resist that intent?

Fix these two problems and you're well on your way to seeing your play come to life.

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