Networking can be a very effective way for playwrights to establish relationships with theaters, with the eventual goal of having the theater produce your work.í‚ In this blog post, I’ll give you the specific steps to start networking.
Step 0: Before you start reaching out, you want to locate local theaters that develop new work.í‚ Just go to this site: http://newplaymap.org/#/explore. Enter your city or state and click í¢â‚¬Å“Search.í¢â‚¬ The results will show the theaters that have recently produced new plays, so these are great places to focus your networking efforts.í‚ If you live in a metropolitan area with many options, focus on the theaters whose artistic interests best match your writing.
Step 1: Email the artistic director, and ask them to have coffee.í‚ Peruse the theater’s website, and find out the name and email information for the artistic director. If you cannot find it online, simply call the main number and ask them what it is! Then email the AD, and ask if they want to grab coffee. Want a copy and paste email that you can send them?í‚ Sure, we’ve got you covered:
[content_box_yellow]Dear [First Name],
I’m an area playwright and would love to get more involved in the local theater scene. I’d like to start off by seeing how I might be able to volunteer with [name of theater].í‚ Would you be free to grab coffee [next week] to chat?
P.S. I know you must be busy, so I’m happy to come to your office if that works better for you!
Remember, never approach the AD by asking, “How can I get you to read or produce my play?”í‚ They already know that’s one of your unwritten goals.í‚ But by making it explicit, you’ll turn them off.í‚ Instead, focus first on the value you can provide them.
Step 2: Volunteer.í‚ í‚ This goes hand in hand with taking the AD to coffee: Once you finally sit down with the AD, let them know you are available to volunteer in any capacity that might be helpful.í‚ If you can’t score coffee with the AD, then let them know via email you are happy to assist with whatever might be needed.í‚ Even better: Think of an ideas or projects you could specifically pitch to the AD.í‚ (Here’s one idea: Offer to spearhead running an evening of staged-readings of 10-minute plays.)
Step 3: Participate in readings & other public events. Check out the theater’s event calendar online, and go to as many events as you can.í‚ See and be seen.
Once you’ve established relationships with the AD, or other key people at the theater, then you can and should casually ask if they’d take a look at your script and “give you feedback.”í‚ This is much lower pressure for the AD than asking directly if they can perform your work.
If you have been a dependable volunteer, there is practically no way the AD will decline “giving you feedback” on your play.í‚ And if the AD likes your work, well then, it’s off to the races!í‚ And if not, the AD may know other theaters that might be interested in your work.
Networking is always a great strategy for getting out into the playwriting world.í‚ And you should complement this strategy with submitting your plays to contests and open calls.