360XQ Day 27: Online playwright resources
As you’ve probably noticed from my last week of tech-centric posts, I’m all about improving systems and workflows, even in the low-tech field of playwriting. I want efficiency. I want resources and integrations. I want automation.
I just want things to work better.
Well, times are changing, and not just on my own desktop. Below is a list of rather savvy resources for all you playwrights out there that you should absolutely have your eyes on.
Dubbed “A knowledge commons by and for the theatre community,” this project running out of Emerson College is a vibrant center for discussion and reflection.
Not only is HowlRound a wealth of information in slick digital form (which I have beamed daily to my Feedly), a lot of the conversations happening here talk specifically about the quickly changing shape of contemporary theatre—and how we as artists interface with new technology.
There are also many important pieces about issues of gender parity, sexual identity, and ethnic representation in the performing arts. In short: the right questions are being asked, and tricky problems are being tackled. This is anything but a stuffy, insular roundtable.
If you’re working in theatre in any fashion (or even if you’re not), I think you should be reading HowlRound. Ideally, you should also contribute to the conversation by pitching and writing a blog post or essay (and yes, there is compensation for your efforts).
A project under HowlRound’s umbrella, the New Play Map gives theatre-makers the ability to contribute to a map of current productions around the world.
It’s like taking every corkboard in every coffee shop, plastered with posters for local shows, and combining them all into an online, interactive, searchable map with links to further info.
And it’s all crowd-powered. We at Living Room Playmakers are, of course, users of the platform, and it’s great.
The New Play Exchange aims to completely change the way playwrights connect with theatres, directors, dramaturgs, and literary managers. Submissions of scripts will never be the same.
Playwrights can create profiles with their contact information, and post their work for users to view.
Plays are tagged with instantly searchable criteria, so that matches can be found more easily. As a former reader, who reviewed dozens and dozens of submitted plays, I can tell you: this is gold.
Also there are so many submission opportunities out there, from theatres I’d love to work with, that never even hit my radar. And there are perhaps a lot of people out there who would like to work with me, but I’m not on their radar.
Now, hopefully, all those ships crossing in the night will have hi-beams on and can find each other. Are you a theatre seeking a female Latina playwright using magical-realism with academic themes? Are you a writer seeking opportunities to work with avant-garde theatres exploring transgender politics under the umbrella of historical fiction? Do you just want to read a play about talking fish? All of these desires are now more readily met with the NPX.
This is big.
As more and more of us adopt this system, I think not only will more connections get formed, but—more importantly—collaborations of higher quality will be forged as well.
And yet? Hunting down a good monologue is still a tedious, inefficient chore. Maybe now there are more resources online than ten years ago, but basically? Your best option is probably to accumulate stacks and stacks of monologue books, flipping through pages, searching for that one perfect piece until your books are wet with tears of grief.
Performer Stuff is creating a tagged, searchable, ever-expanding online database of audition material, including monologues, songs, and scenes. I think it’s a great idea, and I plan to contribute material.
Also, writers will be compensated when their material is purchased and downloaded. Performers will have an easier search, with a broader and more multi-faceted selection of pieces to use. There’s nothing worse than showing up for an audition and realizing the person in front of you is using the same damn monologue that you’ve been practicing all week.