Tuesday, May 14, 2019
It's May, that magical month when Pioneer Drama Service mails annual royalty checks to its playwrights. It's also the month when I take stock of the year just past and compare it to the previous year.
The good news? In terms of productions, it was my best year yet. I had 347, an 11% increase over the 312 productions I had the previous year.
The bad news? The amount of my check actually went down. Sure, it was just a small drop (0.5%), but this was the first time I've ever seen a decrease.
That's largely due to the vagaries of school theater. Some schools pay when they book the show, some up to a month after it's been produced. If I get too many of the latter in April (the biggest month of the year for school plays), it can push my royalties into the following year.
Another problem was that I only had one new play come out -- Babka Without Borders -- and it had the slowest start of any of my plays to date. I can't say I'm too surprised -- it's an odd little play with an unusual setting -- but I love that play and think it's one my best so I'm glad Pioneer has stood by it.
One positive development this year was that 32 or almost 10% of my productions for the year were from schools and community theaters that had previously done my plays. I hope to see that percentage continue to grow.
Oh, and I was excited to see my plays make it to three new countries this year.
Without further ado then, here is the breakdown:
My #1 play was The Enchanted Bookshop, with an amazing 142 productions. Not only does that put it at the top of the list for Pioneer's plays, but that makes it one of the best-selling plays in the country. Normally, plays drop off after their first full year, but Bookshop has already booked 38 productions for next year--more than most of my plays get in an entire year--so I'm hoping it may see another uptick next year. This year, it was also my first play to be done in Ireland, making it my 12th country.
You're Driving Me Crazy! continues to do well in the #2 slot this year with 39 productions. This driver's ed-themed collection of shorts has been popular with high schools and middle schools. around the world, and this year it even got a production in Panama, my 13th country.
At #3, Million Dollar Meatballs pulled off the impossible this year. My plays have always done their best in their first full year, but with 37 productions, this restaurant-set farce actually set a new record in this, its third full year of publication.
After struggling last year, Rumpelstiltskin, Private Eye rallied hard this year with a respectable 31 productions (a 63% increase over the 19 of the previous year). That puts it at #4.
My reality TV parody Trouble in Paradise Junction dropped a precipitous 70% from last year, its first full year of production. But it still ended up with 21 productions, which was good enough to make it #5.
This was also the first full year of publication for The Purrfect Crime (#6) and Wicked Is As Wicked Does (#7). Unfortunately, with just 17 and 16 productions respectively, they came in a little weaker than I'd been hoping. Maybe these will pull off a Meatballs miracle and show a big boost next year.
Going down the list, we find The Stinky Feet Gang (14 productions), The Butler Did It! (12 productions), Long Tall Lester (8 productions), How I Met Your Mummy (7 productions), and The _urloined Letter (3 productions). Although Mummy is down big-time from the 30 productions it got just two years ago, one of this year's productions was in Switzerland, which gave me my 14th country (only 181 to go!).
My new baby, Babka Without Borders (unlucky #13), did manage to book 4 productions during the year. But all of those occur this month, which puts them outside of the 2018-2019 season. The upshot? A big goose egg for the year just past.
So all in all, the year was a bit of a disappointment. But I've got hope! This coming year will see the birth of what could be two monster plays: The Enchanted Bookshop Musical, and my first pirate comedy, Real Pirates Don't Wear Tiaras.
Keep checking back here, folks. You can bet this proud papa will let you know as soon as they're born.
Friday, May 10, 2019
So you remember that photo contest I was telling you about? Well, it turns out that a production of The Enchanted Bookshop at the American International School in Muscat, Oman (yes, Oman!) made the list of five finalists selected by Pioneer.
And I can see why. Their costumes look awesome. And I love the expression on Margie's face (Margie is the one seated on the sofa).
Now comes the fun part, as Pioneer is taking votes from the public to decide the winner. To participate, all you have to do is visit Pioneer's account on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter (or better yet, all three) and click Like under the photo or photos you think are best.
Here are the links:
Of course, I'm not about to tell you how to vote. That's up to you.
But I know which one I'll be voting for.
Monday, May 6, 2019
Babka Without Borders had its world premiere this last weekend with TheatreWorks, a homeschool group in Bloomington, IN, and I was thrilled to hear from Dianna, the nimble-fingered mom who'd made all the costumes.
Dianna got me in touch with Tara, the photographer, and Tara sent me an invite to the group's Shutterfly account, where she'd archived a whopping 275 stills from the show.
I wish I could share them all, especially since they show just how creative you can be on a shoestring budget. these penny-pinching moms and dads were.
Dianna told me that their stage was very small, so they only got rid of two tables on each side of the border that runs through the middle of the set. (The set diagram in the script shows four table on each side, but that is only a suggestion.)
Costumes were also a challenge, especially for a play set in 1910 Europe like this one is. But Dianna was able to get everything she needed at the local Goodwill, and she added embellishments as needed to make them period-correct.
It's resourceful volunteers like these that make youth theater such a positive experience for actors, stage crew and audiences alike.
As they say in Primwick and Bunkelburg, vielen dank!