Get Into Theatre Guide: How do I get my play read?
How do I get my play read?
Author: Andrew Loretto, co-director, Chol Theatre, Huddersfield.
The people who you need to target are literary managers and directors of new writing. If they like the work, and see your potential, then you'll hopefully get your foot on the development and commissioning ladder.
Don't send out work in a blanket fashion. Which theatres you should send your work to depends on the type of plays you have written. Check out the new writing venues and organisations local to your region in the first instance. Look at their websites first to see if they commission the type of work you are writing.
Most producing theatres have their new writing and submissions policy on the website. Look at the mix of work they develop and stage. For example, some companies are interested in plays for young people, others not. Some venues have a preference for more naturalistic, linear narrative forms, and others will steer away from narrative, preferring to use words in a more experimental fashion. And some companies don't develop traditional playwrights as such but take a very broad view of writing eg the writer as performance poet or MC.
There are many venues and companies interested in new writing. There are also new writing agencies and support structures around the UK - such as Script Yorkshire. See the boxes to the right hand side of this article for some key companies that you should check out who are interested in a broad range of new writing/ new work. These are of course just some of the key new writing venues and producers. There are many smaller companies and fringe-based organisations offering opportunities for new writing to be developed and staged.
Read The List, Leeds Guide, Time Out magazine - whatever listings guide is local to your area - see where work is being staged and then go and see it if you're interested.
Put yourself on free mail and email newsletter lists - including Artsnews and Artsjobs (sign up via Arts Council England main website). A really useful resource for screen/radio new writing is the BBC Writersroom website.
In terms of getting an agent as a writer, that tends to happen once you've had a play staged or promoted by a reasonably high-profile theatre company or as part of a festival. If your work has been seen by the agent and they like it enough, they might take you on.
If and when you have any work staged - either fully or as part of a 'work in progress' type of event - do your utmost to get people along to see it. As with approaching the venues, choose the agent carefully according to the type of work (and level of writer) they are interested in representing.
Have a look at who their other clients are - that usually gives you a clue as to what kind of work they're into.
Writers' groups are useful if they operate at a level that challenges and stimulates you creatively. If you feel you are going over old ground, then it can actually be counter-productive. If you're checking out a writers' group, do a little research into who's leading it, who else is currently in the group, and what kind of work they're doing at the moment. You might be able to take part in one or two sessions on a trial basis. One thing I would always caution against is paying money up front for a whole series of writers' sessions - especially when the larger theatres offer free and low-cost training options.
Reproduced in its entirety with kind permission from Get Into Theatre.
Original source here.