by David King
You want to write a play. You're writing a play. You've written a play.
During your process, how many times did the following thoughts roll around in that hamster wheel of your brain and distract you from your writing?
"Is this produce-able?"
"Nobody's going to produce this."
"EVERYONE is going to want to produce this."
"Who's going to produce this?"
"I wonder who would be interested in this?"
"I wonder what this play needs for its next draft."
"I really have to get on this."
"I think I need a deadline."
"I need a dramaturge or someone to help me with this."
There are countless books on playwriting that will give you all sorts of advice, along with words-from-the-wise by playwrights who either use new play development centres to help them advance their work or take on a production as a means of experimenting with their text. In some cases (like the play I'm currently writing), a combination of text and physicality may even require you to play physically for further text, context, imagery and ideas. Regardless of the process your play needs (and it always depends upon the play's needs), I can't think of a single playwright who's writing something to store in their filing cabinet for the rest of its life.
With that in mind, what are some 2011 tips in getting the play from the page to the stage?
We asked Playwrights Workshop Montreal's Artistic Director Emma Tibaldo for her thoughts on the best ways to get your play produced, and she came up with two lists: one a practical, "how-to" list of suggestions, and one a list of very wise, overall advice to keep in mind when you're at the production stage. Here's Emma's first rule of thumb:
"What the f*&k do I know???? I learn something new every time about putting on a production".
Thanks Emma! With that said, here's the great Tibaldo to-do list!
TIBALDO's PRACTICAL ADVICE FOR PLAYWRIGHTS
1. Do the Fringe everywhere, apply for SummerWorks in Toronto.
2. Apply to the Canada Council for an adhoc project grant.
3. Get a group together that is willing to go all in to see a play come to life.
4. Find an audience, from the community, teaching institutions, etc., and get them interested in the production before opening night. Get a buzz going, of any kind.
5. Get a second job to finance your first production."
TIBALDO'S WORDS FROM THE WORKSHOP-WISE
"On a philosophical level I feel the following is what really matters:
1. Only do work you are passionate about. It will carry you through the difficult times. Are you making art, simply entertaining, being political, a combination of these and many others. Define yourself. You can change your mind but it helps to know what you`re aiming for.
2. Find people whose aesthetic and philosophy you share and are excited about, that includes actors, designers, directors, stage management and technical direction.
3. Have people you trust and respect as outside eyes (including as a critical eye).
4. Know that the work is never finished.
5. Don't be afraid to risk and fail because you probably will (for someone).
Get involved with Playwrights Workshop Montreal by visiting playwrights.ca. And if you're a playwright, share some other tips here on CharPo with us!