Podcast Episode 186 – Playwright Dominique Morisseau

Dominique Morisseau is having a moment.

You might not have heard her name before this year when she got the call to Broadway with her book for Ain’t Too Proudbut she has been sloggin’ it out in this city for twenty years and has been a writer for her entire life.

And that practice is paying off big time. It’s no wonder she has received one of the famed MacArthur Foundation Genius Grants.

Dominique and I have been trying to have this podcast convo for a while now, and boy was it worth the wait.  In a quick thirty minutes, we talked about:

  • How getting a great quantity of her work out in the world as she was coming up helped her improve her skills and get noticed.
  • Why not understanding the word “No” was an essential part of her becoming a writer in the first place.
  • Why she’s cautiously optimistic about where we are right now and where we’re headed with diversity in the arts. . . and what still makes her nervous.
  • She doesn’t read reviews.  Ever.  Listen why.
  • How long she had to be an “emerging artist” and whether or not emerging = young.  (See, I told you in last week’s blog that this was a subject people were talking a lot about lately!)
Listen in and prepare to be educated and inspired by how she took her life and career into her own hands and is designing it to be exactly what she wants.

Click here for my podcast with Dominique!

Listen to it on iTunes here. (And if you like the podcast, give it a great review while you’re there!)

Download it here.


This episode of The Producer’s Perspective Podcast is sponsored by Magnolia Bakery. Visit Magnolia Bakery for freshly-baked, classic American desserts, including cupcakes, banana pudding, cakes, cheesecakes, icebox bars, and cookies. For more information, visit magnoliabakery.com or follow them @magnoliabakery.

Does the definition of “emerging artist” mean young? And should it?

 

Whenever I hear three separate people musing about the same subject, whether that’s a show, a song, or even a stock tip, I pay attention. Because it means something’s up.

And just this week, three folks in our industry were questioning what the Talent-Hiring Decision Makers in our biz meant by the term, “Emerging Artist,” . . . and if that was code for “Young Artist.”

The first to clue me into this topic was the uber-intelligent playwright and advocate, Julia Jordan, who chatted with me on my podcast about her fascination with the industry’s fascination with young writers… Since being a writer isn’t like being a Hollywood actor, you don’t need a face and a bod to write a killer play. And ironically, the more years a writer has under his, her, or their belt, the better that writer is going to be!

The second was a member of my PRO community who was told straight to his middle-aged face by someone at a certain awards-giving institution that he wouldn’t get one because he was too old. Gasp!

The third was another “average-aged” writer who said he couldn’t get a meeting with a certain agency because they said they were looking for “new” talent. When he said that he had just started writing five years ago, so he couldn’t imagine being any newer than that . . . he didn’t get a response.

So what’s the deal? Do we have some ageism going on when looking for “new” writers and directors?

Julia did hit the nail on the head when she talked about the world’s fascination with the youth. And in other industries it makes sense . . . pro athletes need to be at their peak physical shape, so there’s no surprise that we focus on youth there.

And look, “new” will always be a great driver of interest to anything (adding “new” to marketing copy always gets more interest from a consumer, by the way, so why should an Artistic Director, Agent, or Producer be any different?). But since most writers don’t produce their greatest work until later in life (until they’ve lived a few lives and, frankly, just practiced the craft more), shouldn’t we be more focused on finding more mature writers?

And if you think the above is a generalization, check out this stat:

The average age of all Nobel Prize Literature Laureates* between 1901 and 2017 is 65 years. The youngest was Rudyard Kipling at 41.

Fascinating, right?

The counter argument is a super valid one. Should the prizes, grants, awards, and industry be focused on younger writers because they may not be in the same financial position as someone who is further along, and therefore they need the assistance more? Should we give a boost to those who need it most so that they will go on to be the Laureate that they might not be if they don’t have the help?

What do you think?  Have you experienced agism either way? Do you think younger writers make better writers or that they need the support more than someone with a few more decades under their writing belt?

Let me know in the comments below.

Podcast Episode 185 — Playwright and Gender Parity Advocate, Julia Jordan

I’ve been following Julia Jordan’s career since she was living on a boat.

That’s right, early on in her life in NYC, she lived on a boat . . . in Manhattan!  And why?  Well, it was cool, of course, but she did it so she could have cheap rent so she could write more.

And write more she did . . . impressing me and tons of others with her early output including The MiceSarah Plain and Tall, many others, and eventually, that cool, suspenseful, Murder Ballad.

Her writing has always gotten her a lot of attention, but over the last several years she’s held the microphone for one of the most important conversations in the theater . . . gender parity.

She founded The Lillys and has been instrumental in The Count.  Don’t know what The Count is?  Well, listen in and hear her tell you in her own words, as well as . . .

  • How the most important thing her first writing teacher did was NOT discuss the quality of her work.
  • What a Pulitzer Prize winner told her to do with her main character to get her play produced . . . and it worked . . . unfortunately (you’ll hear why).
  • Why she thinks about her audience when she writes.
  • What Broadway means to her . . . and why she doesn’t care if her work gets there. (Which will probably be why she DOES get there, btw.)
  • The shocking statistics about gender in the theater and how she is helping change that (and what you can do to help).

Click here for my podcast with Julia!

Listen to it on iTunes here. (And if you like the podcast, give it a great review while you’re there!)

Download it here.


This episode of The Producer’s Perspective Podcast is sponsored by Daniel Rader Photo.

Daniel Rader is available for production photos, events, and headshots.” Check him out/Reach out to him – www.danielraderphoto.com / @danielraderphoto on Instagram.

The Broadway Producer Pick List for 2018!

It’s that time of year, readers!  It’s Producer Pick List time!

Don’t have a @#$%ing clue what I’m talking about?

Ok, let me recap.

We get a ton of scripts submitted to us here at the office from all sorts of folks . . .  agents, friends, investors, PROs, and cold submissions too (although we’ve had to turn those off for a bit as we catch up on all of the ones that have come in from years past).

We can’t produce them all.  Heck, it’s hard to produce even a few.  (Truth be told – more often than not submissions don’t end up getting produced.  Instead, writers from submissions go on our list of folks to track and meet with for future projects – and we’ve hired a bunch of people that way.)

But just because we don’t produce them doesn’t mean the submissions aren’t good!  In fact, we’ve stumbled on some GREAT ones.

We hated not giving some recognition to these unproduced plays and musicals, so . . .  we started a list of the Top 10 Unproduced Plays Or Musicals We’ve Read This Year . . . also called The Producer Pick List!  (See here for the original post about The List from back in 2016.)

And so . . . our list for 2018 is below, along with links to the material from each show, all for your reading pleasure.

Our hope is that while we can’t produce these right now . . . one of you just might!

Congratulations to everyone on the list and here’s to productions for all of them in 2019!

  1. A Green Umbrella by Loren Lester and Jeffrey Silverman
  2. Bonhoeffer the Musical by Scott Wilkinson and Richard John Lewis
  3. Girl from Treblinka by Leonard David Stone
  4. Leveling Up by Deborah Zoe Laufer (directed by Wendy C. Golberg)
  5. Mary Marie by Chana Wise and Carl Johnson
  6. Michael Collins by Joshua Salzman and Ryan Cunningham
  7. Poor Players by Ron Kaehler
  8. Scotland, PA by Adam Gwon and Michael Mitnick
  9. The Secret Court by Tony Speciale and members of Plastic Theatre
  10. The Sycamore Street Kite Flying Club by Juliana Jones and Roy M. Rogosin

 


Want to submit your script?  Click here to sign up to be notified when we are accepting scripts again.

What Marie Kondo can teach you about rewriting your script.

If you don’t know who Marie Kondo is, then you’re probably living under a very untidy rock.

Marie Kondo is the author of the bestselling The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and the star of the new Netflix series “Tidying Up” which has become the hot water-cooler conversation of late.

Ms. Kondo is an organizational guru who changes lives by changing how you keep your home clean.

So, my Type A peeps out there?  You’re going to love her.  And the non-Type A’s?  She’s just what your cluttered closet ordered.

Her basic principle of “tidying” is pretty simple.  Instead of looking at what is in your closet and saying, “What should I throw away,” she turns the question around to ask a positive one . . . “What should I keep?”  And her rule about what stays around is . . .

Only hold on to items that “spark joy.”

So vivid, right?

A sweater that sparks joy stays.  If you don’t feel joyous when you put on those jeans, out they go.  Same with trinkets or books . . .  or even people.  🙂

This got me to thinking about how to apply it to the development of shows and more specifically, how Authors should deal with the notes they get on a script.

If you’re a writer then you know . . . everyone has an idea on how to rewrite your script, right?  And every time you do a reading or send it around, you probably get so many notes, you don’t know where to start . . . and end up not starting at all.

Feedback can be overwhelming, which is why I suggest following the Marie Kondo approach.

See, too many writers I know (especially new ones) take ALL the notes they are given by all the various people who give them . . . and the next draft ends up looking like some kind of collage of a show with no singular vision.

Writers need to know how to filter the feedback they receive, so the show gets better and remains the same show the writer wants to write.

How do you filter?

You Kondo your feedback.

Writers should only take notes that “spark joy.”

When you get a note, you should think about it, roll it around, debate it if you must, and wait for it to give you a burning desire to get back to the keyboard to make the change.

If it doesn’t even get you excited about doing the rewrite?  Forget the note altogether.  Because even if you take it, you won’t write it well, so why bother?

To be a successful rewriter, you must be enthusiastic about the process if you’re going to improve your script.

But you should never sacrifice the story that you want to tell just because someone else has ideas on how they would write it.

They are not you.  The script is not theirs.  It’s yours.

So write the show you want to write, and let Marie Kondo make it even tidier.

– – – – –

Want to learn how to self-diagnose your own script so you don’t have to hear from anyone else? 🙂  Download our “How To Self Diagnosis Your Script” execution plan today and get your script better by tonight! Click here.

Looking for expert feedback on your script from my Director of Creative Development or Ken Davenport? Click here to apply for our script coverage services.

 

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