Monday, September 13, 2021

Show me the Bookshop


It really feels like live theater is coming back. My bookings started picking up in the middle of August, right when most schools across the country were opening back up for the new school year. Total bookings for the season are still a little behind my best season of 2018-2019, but they're an order of magnitude above where they were a year ago so I'm not complaining.

I'm starting to see more media mentions as well. Stained Glass Theatre of Joplin in the Show Me state of Missouri opened their production of The Enchanted Bookshop last weekend and they managed to snag a really nice (four-minute!) plug on local TV station KSNF for their last set of performances this coming weekend, including an interview with two of the actors (who play Margie and The Lady in Red). You can watch the entire clip here.

Co-director Janelle Rawlings has been in touch with me throughout their rehearsal period and has been more than generous in sharing photos and videos from the show with me. I always appreciate that.

By the way, if you're confused about the mention of a cast of 40 for this show (the Pioneer catalog says 23), there's a very simple reason for that. They added parts!

Yes, I allow that for this play. In fact, a lot of school and theatre companies have done the same thing (the play readily lends itself to that). But I always ask that you email me first and let me know, which Janelle was kind enough to do.

Who did they add? Prince, Princess, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the Farmer's and the Three Blind Mice, and the Three Musketeers. They loved having this flexibility because it allowed them to cast every kid who auditioned while reserving the longer and more demanding parts for the adults.

If you're in the Joplin area this weekend, I strongly urge you to attend. See the details below. Stained Glass Theatre is a very talented, hard-working group of folks with a real passion for telling positive, uplifting stories. I know the show is going to be great!

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

The Last Radio Show to be published


Wow. That was a long wait.

Five and a half years after the world premiere of The Last Radio Show--and five and a half years after first submitting it for publication--my old-time radio farce finally got that big thumbs up. And from a new publisher for me, Heuer Publishing.

I'm thrilled--and a little shocked.

When I first submitted the play to my main publisher, Pioneer Drama Service, I thought it was a slam dunk. The play was a big hit when it premiered at the Block Box Theatre in Colorado Springs. And it fit in well with the kind of plays I already had published there.

There was just one problem. Okay, two problems. 

First, the main character--a mild-mannered office boy named Jimmy--has what amounts to an eight-minute monologue at the climax of the play when he saves the radio station by performing all of the parts in a superhero show. (Fortunately, he doesn't have to memorize it. Just as in the old days, all of the radio shows are performed from scripts that the actors hold in their hands.)

And second, the play is somewhat hard to produce, requiring dozens of sound cues and, as it turned out, a sort of juggling act as the radio actors switch back and forth between their radio scripts and the sound effects they have to make.

Pioneer passed, saying the play was too complicated for the schools that make up the bulk of their customer base.

Still, I managed to get a second production of The Last Radio Show in 2017 from Johnston Heights Church in British Columbia (one of only two so-far members of my five-timers club). I was told it was a huge hit there as well.

So I submitted it to all the usual suspects. Eldridge Publishing. Dramatic Publishing. Heuer Publishing. YouthPLAYS. All four rejected it.

I started to think it would never get published.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the trash bin. In 2020, my mystery/comedy Lights! Camera! Murder! got published by Heuer Publishing through their youth-focused subsidiary Brookyn Publishers. It did okay too, getting two productions in a year hard-hit by the ongoing COVID crisis.

So I decided to approach them with it again. After all, this strategy worked for me once before (Pioneer originally rejected Long Tall Lester before accepting The _urloined Letter).

After three months of review, The Last Radio Show was finally accepted it for publication, this time by Heuer itself. They focus more on the community theater marker so it makes a lot of sense.

I couldn't be more excited. When I first produced the play, I'd promised my insanely hard-working cast and crew (we threw the play together in three weeks) that their hard work would be rewarded when the play got published. I kept them up to date on the latest developments from the submission front, and they kept me up to date on their latest theater adventures. To be honest, it was kind of depressing to tell them about the rejections, but they kept the faith--and today that faith was rewarded.

If there's a lesson in all this, I suppose it's to never give up in a play or a book or whatever it is you're working on, even if it's been rejected by every publisher in the civilized world (speaking of which, exactly how many publishers does the uncivilized world have?). It may get a second chance at life.

Just don't stop writing. Or, come to think of it, submitting.