Monday, February 16, 2009

Do It Yourself: The Staged Reading

Once I concluded that my script for Total War was in such a condition that I could not really improve upon it by simply rereading it, I followed the advice of a few friends and decided to start submitting it to different theatre festivals, series, and workshops in order to get a staged reading.

A staged reading is not a full production. It is a stripped down affair in which actors simply read from scripts. It's an opportunity for the playwright to listen and determine if the written word translates well into the spoken word and solicit feedback from actors and audience members. The objective is to turn a work-in-progress into a stage-ready play.

While I have thus far, according to my spread sheet, submitted Total War to sixteen different venues just to be considered for a staged reading, I am still waiting to hear from fourteen of them: one rejected my script, and another received enthusiastic response from a staff member who, only a couple months later, was to suddenly leave her position (also leaving my play and me without a sponsor.) Even though I was actively researching opportunities, the fact that I was waiting on other people's judgments had made me feel passive.

What could I do? It's not as if Total War is a solo-piece like Arlecchino Am Ravenous which I can perform on my own in lieu of a poetry reading, or at some alternative art-space off of the theatre circuit, using the rehearsals and each performance as an opportunity to revise the script (as I submit it to festivals as well, possibly to be performed by other actors.) Total War is an ensemble piece, and a very ambitious one at that.

Finally it dawned on me: Why was I waiting on other people? When Cosmic Spelunker Theater was still active, I booked us anywhere I could, whether the space was a theatre, dance studio, art gallery, night club, or loft space. It was a lesson I had learned from punk rock: DIY (Do It Yourself.)

So I did it myself and booked a staged reading of Total War at Outpost 186 for Sunday, April 26th. It's entirely possible that someone will have said "Yes, we would like to hear your play" between now and then, but at least the play's fate is back in my hands.

Next on the agenda is finish the press release and recruit some actors.

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