The Great Release

 

There is a way of being a Professional Playwright (TM) that I have been taught. It goes like this: Write a play, submit it to various institutions (theatres, festivals, development labs, etc.), and wait for someone to read it and like it and say yes, and if you do that enough times, you can leverage those successes into a career. A “career” is defined here as a way of organizing your time and activities in such a way that results in your plays paying for your utility bill.

Other truisms that are attached to this approach: When You’re Ready, An Agent Will Find You. Register Your Plays with the Copyright People in Case of Grand Larceny. Live in New York, Or Have a Good Reason Why You Don’t. Always Be Networking. Etcetera.

We go about our days, writing cover letters and artistic statements and bios, collecting little bits of critical praise dished out by the guy who’s writing the theatre review column this week because the cooking column was discontinued, feathering our nest with phrases like “Not horrible!” and “An evening in the theatre!” like so many bits of string, thinking if we do that enough times we’ll create an illusion of momentum, and people who didn’t like our plays before will take a second glance because The Muncie Free Press has dubbed it “entertaining.”

And so we go on and on and on.

We do this – I do this – because we have been told that this way lies money. We all want money. We want money for our projects, and we want money for our self-esteem, and we want money for our utility bill. Most of us are humble about it; we don’t want a lot of money (Lie: of course we do), we just want enough to justify spending our time in this way. We have confused money with legitimacy.

We have bought into the notion that the money-makers are the “professionals” and the non-money-makers are the “amateurs.” I can think of no worse insult than to be called an amateur. How can I be an amateur? Have you seen my student loans?

But now, true confession: If my job is to wring money out of my art, then I am very bad at my job. I can’t seem to do it well. When I have managed the miraculous, it’s never for very long and it’s never for very much. No agent has magically appeared to me out of the mists – a couple have sniffed around, but nobody’s proposed marriage or even offered to read my plays. I have a couple of short pieces published; Dramatic Publishing currently owes me $11.43 and has for seven years. They won’t cut me a check until the amount reaches $25, so I expect to get paid never.

I see my colleagues working the machine, racking up the publications and schmoozing with the artistic directors and burrowing their way into various institutions, and it seems wondrous to me. Is it because they live in a more exciting town? Is it because they went to the Fancy School? Did they learn some secret, some alchemy that I never learned? Was I truant the day they taught Money-Getting?

For the past fifteen or so years, I have attempted to do all the things I was taught, hoofing for dollars on the margins, trying to break into the big room, and growing increasingly anxious at my failure to do so. Is the answer to make a different kind of theatre, one that is more populist, or weirder, or broader or narrower? Do I need to start my own version of the Setting Up Folding Chairs in the Church Basement Theatre Company? Do I gird my loins and “write for television” (as if that option is as easy as booking a plane ticket and hanging out a shingle)? I find myself spiraling down a rabbit hole, each dubious solution leading to a distorted outcome.

When I get lost in a play revision, it helps me to remember why I wanted to write the play in the first place. What was the initial impulse that motivated me? That impulse, be it an image or a gut feeling, becomes my North Star, and I can find my way out of the thicket of what-ifs and could-bes to get to my essential truth.

Why did I go into the theatre? I mean, I’m not dumb. I’ve got a brain and two hands and could make money doing any number of things. And there are lots of jobs out there that are not soul-sucking endeavors, but nourishing, useful work. If I wanted money, going into the theatre has proven, at best, deeply irrational.

So what was my initial impulse?

I believe a play is not a script but an event, that as a playwright my job is to plan a haunted house, and then get my friends together and put it on for the people to experience, and along the way if I can slip in some commentary on feminism or the plight of humanity, well and good. My mission statement is to Amuse and/or Tell the Truth. One or the other is fine; both is best.

I note here that nowhere in my pithy mission statement is any thought given to money. My mission is not to Amuse and/or Tell the Truth for Money; simply saying that aloud rings false. I must conclude (to my privileged chagrin) that I am not now, nor have I ever been, in it for the money. Yet I devote so many of my scant resources toward that very thing.

A radical thought: What if I stopped chasing the money? What if I separated my need to pay my utility bill with my need to amuse and/or tell the truth? What if I took all my urgent submitting and wheedling, and chalked it up as a bad job? A certain amount of money is necessary to make my work, but what if I treated it as an ingredient, rather than the hoped-for outcome? What happens then?

What happens is a complete rethinking of the conventional wisdom of career-making.

Now having a professional career does not mean using my art to pay my bills. Now “career” is redefined to mean the fulfillment of my mission statement by means of the most rigorous application of my skills and abilities, and “professional” means conforming to the highest possible aesthetic standards, in conversation and in collaboration with other like-minded peers. It speaks to a degree of artistic competence, rather than a given percentage of earned income.

To fulfill my mission, I must connect with my audience as often and as fruitfully as possible. If I focus my energy where it rightly belongs – making that connection for the much-needed amusing and/or truth-telling – then my first order of business becomes to reduce the barriers between my work and my audience. I should make it as easy as possible for people to see my work. The two most valuable things we can ask from strangers is their money and their attention. Their money would be nice, but their attention is integral. Eric Bentley defines theatre as A performs B for C. If there is no C, there is no theatre.

So how do I do that? Specifically, how do I do that with little or no money?

Well, for starters, I put all my scripts online for free.

I floated this idea on Facebook, and all my well-meaning and concerned friends freaked the fuck out. “You’re devaluing your art! You’re saying your art is worthless! Your plays are your property!”

I point to Charles Mee – he’s done this for years.

“Yeah, but Chuck Mee is different,” say my friends. “He’s doing an experimental post-modern thing, and anyway he’s old and he already has all the money. But you are young and fresh and nobody knows who the hell you are! ‘Tis madness!”

(I don’t know Chuck Mee personally, but I’m willing to wager he made more money from productions of Big Love last year than I’ve made in the last three years from all my plays combined. And that’s with the entirety of all his scripts released online for free. Our university did Big Love last year, and we paid him.)

But leaving Mee aside, let’s explore this idea that “giving away” my scripts devalues them. My plays are valueless, as long as they sit in a drawer. If a play is an event and the script is the blueprint, then what good is a bunch of blueprints taking up space on my hard drive? I didn’t write my plays to be hidden from the world by a team of hypothetical lawyers. Making my script a thing that is difficult to find and read, making the reading of my script a privileged experience, is an obstacle between my work and my audience. Currently, if I can’t convince a theatre to produce my haunted house, and for whatever reason I can’t produce the haunted house myself, then all that work that went into planning the haunted house is a waste of time.

“But someone can take your work and steal it!” Okay: First, nobody’s going to steal my work without me knowing it. If somebody plagiarizes me, I’ll find out. Remember the big stink when Glee allegedly ripped off Jonathan Coulton’s arrangement of Baby Got Back? Patrolling for plagiarism is a task ideally suited to crowdsourcing.

Secondly, nobody’s going to produce my play without me knowing about it. Remember that $11.43 Dramatic Publishing owes me? That’s for a ten-minute play I wrote called Rumple Schmumple. In theory, people are supposed to pay Dramatic a royalty to produce it.

But my Google Alert tells me that Rumple Schmumple gets done all the stinking time, and if Allenwood Middle School and its compatriots were actually paying the royalties they’re supposed to, I would have surpassed the twenty-five-dollar mark long ago. In theory, I could demand Allenwood Middle School coughs up the chump change they owe me, but I never do. Why? Because the reality is, if Allenwood had to pay to do the play, they probably wouldn’t do it. And with arts education being what it is, I’m thrilled that anybody’s doing any play at all. That particular play happens to have some pretty subversive feminist messages stitched into its seemingly-innocuous fractured-fairytale fabric, and it tickles me to smuggle those ideas into a bunch of seventh graders’ subconsciousness. Knowing that is happening is worth way more than the measly ten dollars or whatever that I would get from those schools, poor souls.

I teach, and sometimes my students feed me a story about their dead grandmother to get out of class. Even when I suspect they’re lying to me, I usually excuse them because I know if they’re the kind of student who has to lie about a death in the family to get out of class, they’re the kind of student who’s probably not going to get an A in the first place. They don’t need me to be hyper-vigilant about how many surviving grandmothers they actually have; that stuff takes care of itself. And if they do it enough times to warrant my attention – for example, their third grandmother in a semester kicks it – then I take appropriate disciplinary measures. But I don’t stress about it until that time.

If a theatre finds my work online and wants to produce it, and they’re a legitimate theatre full of right-thinking people, they will pay me. And if a company steals it from me and doesn’t pay me, then they’re probably not a very good company, and it’s a good bet they’re not going to profit in the end. And if they do profit, I’ll know about it. You can’t produce a play in secret. And if a no-good thievin’ company steals my work and profits from it enough to warrant my attention, then I’ll take all the appropriate disciplinary measures.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to live my life. Because what are we really talking about here? A bunch of – let’s face it – people who are probably not malicious and are fans of my work and are probably ignorant of the ways in which they’re ripping me off, or else justifying their theft out of a lack of intellectual rigor, putting on my play for their friends and their moms? That’s kind of amazing.

Listen: Of course I want to get paid. Of course I should get paid. But the fact is not only am I not getting paid now, but my work is languishing in the dark. Right now, people are paying me neither money nor attention. I’d like both, but I’d rather have the attention (an ingredient, let’s remember, that is absolutely essential to the making of my work) than nothing at all.

It is fear that keeps me clutching at my scripts, shielding them from prying eyes like I’m in math class, guarding against copiers. Enough. Be free, scripts! Find admirers!

Theatre, playwriting, joke telling, haiku: these are economic forms. Concision, precision, and truth are requirements. Let’s get elemental and essential. My favorite thing to do on this earth is to stand in front of an audience and participate with them in a shared experience of my own design. Anything I can do to encourage that, I embrace; anything that hinders that, I reject.

And if I do this, if I refocus my efforts toward the making of the work and rushing headlong into the arms of the audience rather than crabbing for dollars on the sidelines, then I imagine the work will get better. I will create from a place of empowered freedom, of delightful experimentation. Work made from an anxious place is tentative and small. Work made from an emancipated place is daring and joyous.

And – irony of ironies! – if the work is better, it will warrant people’s attention. And then the money will follow.

And if it doesn’t, well, so what? What have I lost? It bears repeating: the old system isn’t working for me. It’s like the car has broken down, so I suggest walking to our destination. “But then you’ll have to walk all that way!” scream my friends. “It’s better to drive!” Maybe it is. But that car is in a ditch. It’s moot. I don’t need a stinking agent to tell me that.

Patton Oswalt has said – and I’m paraphrasing here – that when aspiring comedians ask him how to get their foot in the door, he responds that there is no door. Just make your work, and the good will out.

What if we just made our work?

“That’s easy for you to say, Megan,” some friends might say. “You already have a glamorous and lucrative job as an adjunct professor in the theatrical hotbed known as the state of Iowa. But me, I’m struggling!”

Yes, I hear you: Rehearsal space is expensive. Good actors and designers are expensive. Folding chairs are expensive. Yes, yes, yes. You know what else is expensive? Not making our art. Playwriting is the art of problem solving. Solve these problems. Quit saying no. Institutions are crumbling. No: Institutions are illusory. Institutions do not exist. There is no institution that can grant us careers like fairies. Playwrights Horizons is not coming to rescue us.

Now is the time for revolution, friends. Now is the time for revelation. Let’s rethink everything.

And if you’d like to read a play, I have some available.

Advertisements

About megangog

Playwright. Monologuist. Songwriter. Delightful Person.
This entry was posted in Theatre and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to The Great Release

  1. Rob Merritt says:

    Agreed! This is why I plan to put “Summerland Project” online in a few weeks. Same thing — people told me not to “give it away.” Right, because it’s making soooo much money hidden away on my hard drive.

  2. Don Zolidis says:

    You’re free to do whatever you want with your plays, and I agree that stressing over money is probably a self-defeating proposition inimical to your mission, but… You do everyone in our field a disservice when you don’t try to inform schools about copyright law. I was a middle school theatre teacher for many years. (I had an annual budget of $100) I knew the rules. Everyone knows the rules. When you allow a school to rip you off, (and rip off the hardworking people at Dramatic Publishing by the way, because you might not make a living from selling your schools to middle schools, but they do.) you sanction that behavior. That teacher is going to rip off the next playwright in line as well. And they’re going to keep doing it until they get upbraided by a playwright and called to account for it. All you do when you don’t go after them is perpetuate a culture in which our product has no value, and that’s not okay. (And there are many other playwrights who do make a living selling plays to middle schools, and you’re hurting them too.)

    • Len says:

      Yes,Yes, and Yes Don. The writer should be liable for allowing Dramatic Publishing to be ripped off by this her philosophy. I would assume that since she has thrown the copyright boundaries out the window, that she would be okay if a theatre group also altered her script to communicate something slightly different while still attaching her name as the writer.

      • Rob Merritt says:

        Nice. Way to seize upon one tiny detail in this blog and then blow it up out of context and out of proportion. I am pretty sure that Ms. Gogerty’s letting 11 dollars go by the wayside is not cutting into your living. And while you’re at it, don’t go crediting Ms. Gogerty with things she didn’t say. Pretty sure that nothing in here says, or even implies, that Ms. Gogerty equates a middle school’s one-time free use of her play with a desire to throw all copyright rules out the window and have her work rewritten with abandon. Maybe you should think about actually engaging this playwright in constructive conversation about your craft, rather than smugly distorting her comments and lecturing her.

      • Don Zolidis says:

        It won’t allow me to reply to Rob below but this is a reponse to him. When an organization performs a play without compensation, it means they have not signed a contract, which means that there is no respect for copyright. This does include changing lines, adding parts, whatever. When you have a contract with an organization, that organization will (typically) contact the playwright if they’d like to get permission to make changes. As far as “it’s only 10 bucks” – no, it’s not only 10 bucks. It’s 10 bucks per performance, which means, since it’s been done all over the place that it’s considerably more than that. How does that cut into my living? How does that cut into all our livings’? Well, those people that steal her play clearly believe that they don’t need to pay for royalties, and they will steal my play too.

  3. Thank you for a morning full of half inspiration, half kick-in-the-pants.

  4. Honestly, I couldn’t agree more, and as a young writer, I do feel very shut out by the system as is – it is truly hard to gain notice. Why not have your work available, when the point is to get people to read it?

  5. Megan Rivas says:

    Bookmarked. Forever.

  6. You are not the only one feeling this way. I have often wondered these very questions and received similar responses from playwrights here in the U.S.. I have also done a lot of work abroad and find that this attitude is much more prevalent in places such as Russia. Russian playwrights with whom I’ve worked, and there have been several, are much more interested in having their work read, than being protective of it. They have expressed confusion at my desire to protect my work; which in their eyes was protecting it from the very people that might, just might, be interested in doing my work.

    What I have seen from my colleagues abroad is a much more open minded, much less financially- centered, view of their artform, and what I see is their work being done: being done in interesting venues via interesting perspectives and they are managing to buck the norm of what was being done in the mainstream theaters to such an extent that their work is now beginning to be done in those very theaters.

    One way of looking at this is: “if someone does my work without my permission and I don’t hear about it, that means it wasn’t successful and my involvement probably wouldn’t have ensured the success of the work on that level.” Why would I want to be promoting theaters whose only reason to communicate with me about my work is due to contractual obligation?

    If theaters are interested in my work and want to do it well, they will want to talk to me about it. That’s all I care about. That’s how you build a reputation. That’s how you allow your work to speak for itself and for you to focus on your work and not have to be a machine whose work relies upon your geography or your witty facebook statii (ok, I must admit that Megan Gogerty’s facebook statuses are one of the only reasons to still have an account), If we all have to live in the same places to find “success,” our regional voices will continue to disappear.

    This has been an issue that has been on my mind for the past several years. A while back, as a halfhearted geture, I’ve posted a few items on my own website, but only those that seemed altruistic (or perhaps I didn’t post the ones that I thought would make money…HA!). Thank you, Megan, for your articulation of these ideas. I look forward to joining you in this. Maybe if more of us begin putting our work online, we can either get the established “gatekeepers” to wake up, or devalue them to the point that work can be discovered via other venues. I’ll work to have my catalogue of plays online by the end of May.

    Addendum: This is a strategy that is becoming more popular with many of my favorite bands: the CD is online for you to download, but if you want to pay something…feel free to. I like that…it banks on the generosity of those that have an interest, not a withholding in the hopes of something better.

  7. Pingback: The choice to post your plays online… | davewhite/playwright

  8. Todd Ristau says:

    We don’t teach this “put a stamp on it and hope for the best” approach at Hollins. Which is why we are so excited about having you come teach at Hollins next year. Lead on, sister! Lead on!

  9. kj says:

    I know and love Megan Gogerty and her work. She’s wicked smart and tells it like it is. This blog touches on a lot of things I think all individual artists wrestle with, whether playwrights, directors, designers or, like me, dramaturgs. We do what we do because it fills us with joy. Still, it’d be great to get paid enough to pay the bills without having that daytime job. Thanks Megan.

  10. miltonpat says:

    Reblogged this on Patricia Milton and commented:
    I’m reblogging this provocative post from Megan Gogerty. I love her mission statement: “My mission statement is to Amuse and/or Tell the Truth. One or the other is fine; both is best.”

  11. Ben Jolivet says:

    I have such an all-consuming crush on this.

  12. Wayne Rawley says:

    You have written down my brain. Thank you! No, seriously. Thank you.

  13. Pingback: Emerging Playwright » Megan Gogerty’s Great Release: A MUST READ FOR PLAYWRIGHTS

  14. Lori Lum says:

    So much of this rings true in the photography industry as well…round and round we go about the devaluation of individual photographers’ work bringing down the entire industry, work being pilfered off other photographers’ websites and used as one’s own, and so on and so forth…
    I love this post, and especially this part…”Just make the work.” Simple. Well said. A great reminder. As artists we are called to simply make the work, and the more we can remember that, the clearer our vision becomes. The rest is clutter and distraction. Clear it away. It is not easy, but we have to do what is necessary to create a space in our lives to just make the work.
    Thanks for your post M.

  15. Todd London says:

    Megan, my wife Karen Hartman forwarded me your post because she knew I’d love it. And I do! You’re all over the truth here: there is no professional path, there is no gold at the end of the playwright rainbow. There’s just what you love to do, what you do well, your impulse and connection to the work and audience. And there’s the big generosity of your impulse to give the work away and connect. Revolution, revelation, and re-evaluation. A wonderful and brave piece, smart and joyful. Thank you thank you.

    • Don Zolidis says:

      Todd, I love you, and no one on the planet loves playwrights more than you do, but I have to respectfully disagree with you. This is part of a larger question: How should playwrights make a living? Does what we do have value, and should we be compensated for that value? I am absolutely fine with Megan putting all of her plays on the internet for free, and I hope this leads her to additional opportunities. (Maybe even our discussions here will lead people to read her plays!) I give a ton of free material away on my website as well – I provide free monologues and duets specifically for theatre teachers to print out and give to their classes. Teenagers all over the country use them for auditions and class projects and I never ask for a penny. That’s all fine.

      What I am not fine with, and what I don’t think any of us should be fine with, is the notion that it doesn’t matter if some middle school out there “steals” a play (i.e. performs it without paying for royalties – which would involve photocopying the script, and producing it for an audience), because, hey, it’s just a middle school, and it’s not that big of a deal. And it’s better to have the play out there be seen by people than not be seen by people.

      Let’s say we’re both bakers. We both bake pie. My neighbor loves baking pie and doesn’t want any money. He sets his pie out on a ledge with a sign that says, “free”. I want to bake so much that I don’t want to have to do anything else, so I put a sign out that says 10 dollars. A guy walks by and takes the free pie and likes it. Then he comes by later and takes my pie and doesn’t pay for that either. Why doesn’t he pay for it? Because he believes that pie should be free.

      Look, I’m not saying that she should ride in like a chariot of fire and demand the teacher’s head on a platter, but this is a teachable moment, and we’re missing it. The lesson needs to be: If you enjoy our work, and you value it, then you should pay the agreed upon price for it. (And it’s not our price, it’s the publisher’s price at this point.) 99 times out of 100 that teacher will say, “oh, you’re right, I’m so sorry, now I know better” and they will find a way to come up with the money. I know this for a fact. Many of these teachers are doing plays because they are English teachers, or History teachers, or Gym teachers, and have been assigned the school play because there’s no one else to do it. They need to be educated in how licensing works. And once they know how it works, they will pay for it next time.

      I find productions of my plays that aren’t paid for every week (it’s easy to find them when you have a weird name). I have my publisher send them a polite email, and usually they will immediately pay for the play. This amounts to thousands of dollars per year for me. It’s not nothing. My job as a working playwright is harder when there are other playwrights who don’t care if their work is infringed.

      Again, this all is part of a larger question: Should it be enough for playwrights to merely see their work out there? To get it out to the largest possible audience? Or, should our art form be able to sustain writers, to give them a career, and, yes, a living, from the theatre? In an ideal world we would all want the latter. (I hope the benefits are obvious) We don’t live in an ideal world, but shouldn’t we be trying to work towards one? Shouldn’t we all want playwrights to be able to make a living?

      It’s not impossible to make a living as a playwright. It’s extremely difficult, but it can be done. But it gets harder and harder if we don’t demand that our product has worth, and that’s worth paying for.

      And one last thing I’ve found to be true. In the past I’ve sent emails directly out to student groups, high school teachers, college professors, anyone with a theatre – offering my plays for free. I’ve never had one take me up on it. But when those plays cost money, they’ll buy them and pay for the performance rights (sometimes it’s the same theatres I tried to give it away to). It’s easier to sell a play to someone than to give it away. Because when people are willing to give it away for free, the “buyer” believes that it must not be worth very much, and judges it accordingly.

      • Todd Ristau says:

        Don, it seems that your experience and opinion are different from that of Megan Gogerty and Todd London. Why do they have to be wrong for you to feel your experience and opinion are valid? You have a great website and clearly are getting paid for your work, have two agents, write a blog for a publishing company and teach playwriting–even so, I have to say I’m leaning toward the opinion of the guy who gave us Outrageous Fortune. That is a pretty thorough examination of the economics of playwriting, and not based solely on personal anecdotal evidence.

        I don’t think Megan is a scab. I think Megan is one of the best people and most talented playwrights I know–and she is a personal friend. Please don’t be mean to my friend. Disagree with her and then move on. She deserves your opinion, because she invited it. What she doesn’t deserve is multiple rants about how she is making it easier to steal your work and ruining playwriting for everyone.

  16. YES. YES YES YES.

    Even when theater pays, it never *really* pays enough (financially) to justify the time and sweat put in. We deserve to be paid, and we can rally to change the system so we can get paid, sure. BUT, that’s not gonna happen overnight. In the meantime we can either be bitter that we’re not getting paid, or keep making the work, which is the whole point. Love the work you do and do the work you love. If you don’t have that, then the money is a moot point, and it’s never gonna be enough to justify doing some work you didn’t love.

    Personally I don’t know how to change the system so I can get paid. I have no idea where to even begin. So in the meantime it seems more efficient and more happy-making to just keep doing things I like doing until it’s not fun anymore. Right now it’s fun.

    I’ve heard the same “devaluing” claim about Indie Theater Now, where some of my plays are available online for $1.29. A friend who is also featured on the site said the Dramatists Guild (who I generally love, and whose advice I generally cherish) advised him NOT to publish his play there, saying, “Do you really want to be associated with a site where they offer plays for a dollar?” And he thought about it and decided, “yeah. Yeah, I do.”

    Accessibility. More art for more people. More of our brain waves tickling other people’s brain waves. Yes, yes, yes.

  17. megangog says:

    Goodness! Thanks for engaging with me, everybody!

  18. “That particular play happens to have some pretty subversive feminist messages stitched into its seemingly-innocuous fractured-fairytale fabric, and it tickles me to smuggle those ideas into a bunch of seventh graders’ subconsciousness.”

    I love that. This post speaks to so much of what I’ve been thinking over the years. Thanks for taking the leap and explaining the logic.

    P.S. I read Feet First in the Water last night and LOVED it. I thought I’d just take a peak at the beginning and I ended up reading until the end, nodding my head and laughing through it all.

  19. “It is fear that keeps me clutching at my scripts, shielding them from prying eyes like I’m in math class, guarding against copiers. Enough. Be free, scripts! Find admirers!”

    Excellent point! You’ll never get your scripts performed by keeping them on your hard drive.

  20. Ann Juurinen says:

    Doing it. Thanks for the best perspective on money and art that I have read in a long time. The world has changed. We are not so much mere spectators any longer, as we are co-conspirators, participants making art part of life, and life part of art. If there is a dividing line any longer I have no idea where it is.

  21. The frustration with things is clear, and justified. But.

    Many playwrights *have* posted their work free on the Net ever since it was new. Hasn’t yet made careers happen more quickly.

    Part of it’s length. The 10 minute play market is a waste. You might as well put the shorts out on the Net, or get them out in collections. 10 minute plays are near always *presented* in collections of many authors which dilutes your individual voice. Those shows are like open mic nights, they benefit venues, and few artists rise from them.

    It’s getting your long plays done that gets you the name. A great full-length in production focuses a viewer’s evening on you. That leads to people talking about you, and then commissions & royalties.

    If your full-lengths are not getting high quality well-publicised productions, do the plays yourself. This is no longer seen as vanity production; in fact that’s what Chuck Mee, Richard Foreman, Lisa D’Amour, and hundreds of others do.

    It doesn’t have to be a burden or scary. You can form a company and spread the work amongst many, or join an existing company practicing that model. 13p is done but have a look at what we do: http://www.sanctuarytheatre.org.

    Best of everything to you.

  22. aeliusblythe says:

    Reblogged this on Cheapass Fiction and commented:
    True story:
    “Listen: Of course I want to get paid. Of course I should get paid. But the fact is not only am I not getting paid now, but my work is languishing in the dark.”

    Playwright beautifully illustrates the plight that many, many writers face as they fight to keep a tight hold on their work:

  23. Pingback: Writers, Writing, and Getting Paid – Reblog: “The Great Release” | Cheapass Fiction - Welcome to the free world of fiction.

  24. Pingback: Notes on The Great Release | Megan Gogerty. Wordsmith.

  25. Todd Ristau says:

    One last little point, what is the point of having a publisher if the publisher isn’t going to be the royalty cop? Why does the playwright have to chase down all those schools who are ripping them off by doing their play instead of the publishing company? They presumably have at least one copy of a cease and desist letter they paid a lawyer to write that they could simply change the title and playwright and fire off or is the cost of a stamp or time it takes to send a hot email too much effort for a publishing company to put into enforcing their license? If playwrights should be paid for their plays, then they should also get bonus percentage of any royalty they squeeze out of a middle school on behalf of the publisher. After all, it is time they are spending doing the publisher’s job instead of putting to the good use of writing the next play for that publisher.

    Harumph.

    I say make the publishers sweat and self-publish, self-produce, and self-pay.

  26. Anne Marie Nest says:

    As an actor I have gotten paid for my work for the last fifteen years; I am a member of three unions and four professional associations; a very large institution pays my utility bill to teach the skills of our craft. I would never be a scab. I would never kick the very institutional structure that pays my bills. When I was acting full time, the work I got paid to do was often less than satisfying artistically and, at worst, went against some of my core beliefs. I took these jobs, however, because I was (am) a “professional.” Now that I don’t need my acting work to pay my bills, however, I am free to turn those jobs down; I can be picky for the first time in my career (I know Cameron Diaz can be picky too, but go with me here). Now I am free to create work that I believe in and to get back to the real reasons I chose theatre in the first place. While I am happy to belong to these unions and associations and institutions – and I would never subvert them to weaken their collective bargaining power – I believe in freeing myself of them as I create new work. I believe I can create work outside of the machine. I believe I can benefit from the machine without devaluing what they do best. I believe I can do both. I believe Megan is doing both.

  27. Putting a padlock on all of your work and thuggishly protecting it is no way to make a living. It’s certainly no way to get creative jollies.

    I’m writing a novel along similar lines. I will happily let people read the book for free just for the opportunity to get them into my readership and be influenced by their views.

    Somewhere down the line I might however say ‘hey look here’s some extra stuff, send me a tenner and you can have one.’ I’m not going to accomplish any merch sales if I don’t have a modest stampede of reader traffic, though.

    The simple fact is, the more that I write, the more I have to put out there and the more chance I have to get noticed. If someone feels the urge to help me out with a donation they can go right ahead – in the meantime I’m going to keep doing what I love, until my typing fingers drop dead from exhaustion.

  28. Pingback: Emerging Playwright » Megan Gogerty responds to questions relating to The Great Release

  29. Pingback: Just Another Get-Art-Quick Scheme | Megan Gogerty. Wordsmith.

  30. dehelen says:

    Reblogged this on Red Crested Chatter and commented:
    All my own monologues are free on my website, SandradeHelen.com. You can also read my full length, one act, and ten minutes plays at my site. If your theatre company wants to produce any of the plays, contact me for a contract. If you can’t afford royalties, we can work out something. Now, read this blog by Megan Gogerty.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s