I throw an increasing number of my submissions away before I lick the envelope or hit “send.” Why?
Because they require a payment.
It’s bad enough that playwrights have an exceedingly marginal chance of making a living. Other than the most commercially successful – Ken Ludwig, Alan Ayckbourn – even those who are routinely produced and published must scrabble with other work to stay afloat.
And then I came across this.
It sounds just fine, like a really dedicated bunch of folks, they boast of not charging a submission fee, hooray for opening a brand new theater, but scroll down in the link. Oh, hell, I’ll just give you the 411.
If your piece is chosen to participate in the festival there is a NON-REFUNDABLE production fee of $300.00, to be paid immediately upon acceptance. This cost will help defray some of the expenses such as publicity and space rental. In addition, each production will receive two (2) complimentary tickets to the Awards Ceremony/Final Performance.
Please note: All playwrights are responsible for producing their own individual plays. Variations Theatre Group will assist with finding actors, directors, and any technical assistants needed.
This is a festival of 15-minute plays.
It’s egregious enough that playwrights are asked to cough up $5, $10, $15 dollars to submit works – and let us note that most of these companies fund their festivals on that money, meaning that they fund production of the five or ten “winners” with the “losers” cash – but $300 PLUS responsibility for hiring a director and actors, finding/paying for audition and rehearsal spaces, costuming, doing props, and all of the other tasks usually done by the theater?
These people do not deserve a new theater space. They deserve our scorn, our derision, and our blacklisting.
The bigger question here, of course, is the idea that playwrights, those whose work is the very basis of theater and without whom – despite the “devised” movement – modern theater would not exist, that these hardworking, underpaid, underappreciated artists should be required not only to give up our work product for free, but also to pay even to have it considered, much less produced.
Are actors charged a fee to audition? Are directors and designers required to pay not only for being considered but, if chosen, also the costs surrounding their work? That would translate to a costumer not only paying to submit designs, but also buying the fabric, hiring the seamstresses, providing the sewing machines– you get it, so I’ll stop here.
But I will add another analogy.
When you go looking for work in this or any other economy, are you expected to pay your potential employer a fee merely to be considered? And then to fund your own job?
I’m a huge supporter of the 50/50 by 2020 movement, but we’re fighting for 50% of what?
I’m mad as hell. Are you?
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