Submitting your play to a new-works festival: some hopefully helpful hints (PART 5; Final Meeting: After)

bapf-meeting-doodle-2-copy2I meant to include this little tidbit in a past post but never got around to it:

What Does Doodling do?
School of Psychology, University of Plymouth, UK

Doodling is a way of passing the time when bored by a lecture or telephone call. Does it improve or hinder attention to the primary task? To answer this question, 40 participants monitored a monotonous mock telephone message for the names of people coming to a party. Half of the group was randomly assigned to a ‘doodling’ condition where they shaded printed shapes while listening to the telephone call. The doodling group performed better on the monitoring task and recalled 29% more information on a surprise memory test. Unlike many dual task situations, doodling while working can be beneficial. Future research could test whether doodling aids cognitive performance by reducing daydreaming.
Copyright # 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

So, dear playwright, when you see the doodle accompanying this post from tonight’s 6-hour meeting, please know that I now have our most popular almost-science backing up my claim that I was fully paying attention!

The angelfood cake was somewhat a success, though the strawberry sauce–which turned out to be an gelatinous goop–was not. The organizers of the festival asked us in email-passing to bring sweets if we wanted any, which of course meant we had 5 different cakes (some homemade!). We are a nice group, I would argue. Only a nice group would provide five cakes for a group of 17 or so.

Tonight was grand and exhausting. The structure: each play was given a 3 minute presentation and then a vote was taken and tallied. Then the ranking was posted on the wall. I was sad but not surprised to see my favorite fourth to the bottom. My presentation was inadequate, but it wouldn’t have mattered. It had too many strikes against it just because of the kind of play it is (which is a kind of play I do not usually personally fancy either!).  I have a friend in Chicago who knows a guy who does plays about the Midwest; I think this play fits. Hopefully it will have a life somewhere. I think it certainly deserves one.

Then the discussions began, and I am convinced that this is why this group of mostly returning-readers dedicates five months of their time to reading for this festival: five hours of conversation about the strengths and weaknesses of plays that everyone in the room is familiar with. Beginning with the highest ranked, we discussed the pros and cons of each for ten minutes, often disagreeing but never arguing. Those who had worked with the playwrights discussed how they work and cope with the revision process. Fascinating conversations about what plays need to have a life now occurred. Compromises were made, and decisions were swayed. At midnight we voted again and plays that had been ranked in the late teens had crawled there way into the top ten. It was heartwarming.

Someone in the group said that if there were more producers and money in the world, all these plays would be done, and he is right. All of these plays had supporters. Each one of the final 24 has the potential to grow into something amazing. . . or at least really strong and pleasing to a certain demographic.

The final decision of what plays will be workshopped and seen in next summer’s festival will be made from the tallies we created as a group tonight: the staff of the theater will take our votes into account as they weigh in other factors including cost and availability. This is the right balance that I did not predict in my last post. Our opinions have great weight, but are not final, because at some point practicality has to come into play. I think this is how it should be, and shows a lovely amount of respect and trust.

So I guess that means its over for me until next year! What am I to do with my evenings now? Well, after a post a few weeks ago when I suggested I might not have ever had the opportunity (i.e. pressure) to read Pride and Prejudice I received a few comments (i.e. pressure) from friends more cultured than I. So I guess I have a date with Miss Bennet and Mr. Darcy.


Leave a Reply

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

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

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ 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 )


Connecting to %s