YOU LIKE ME! YOU REALLY LIKE ME!
Like all playwrights I regularly send out my plays (all two of them) to various theatres when the opportunity arises. The 'opportunity' could be a theatre that has attracted my attention for one reason or another, or a general call for submissions. Usually I get the usual rejection letters/notes: 'Dear Eleanor - thank you for submitting your play but...' or 'Dear Playwright. Unfortunately your play did not make the cut...' or all too often, no communication whatsoever. Be that as it may (or may not) it's all part of the process. It never gets easier.
Today I received an interesting and somewhat caustic although brief rejection note. I read and re-read the words that Jill, the send-ee, passed along:
Thanks for sending blah-blah. But I'm afraid it doesn't suit us.
Play writing depends not only on witty dialogue, and a joke a minute, but also on a sense of mystery,of heightened language and moments of silence, when what is unspoken is more important that what is spoken. I feel your story is written more as a TV sitcom than as a play for the stage. For good playwriting, I would suggest that you read someone like David Mamet -
Reading and interpreting her words, I figure there must have been some merit in the play if she wrote: "playwriting depends not only on witty dialogue..." Aha! So she admits that my dialogue is witty! That's nice to know!
She goes on: "...and a joke a minute..."
O-kay! This definitely means I have a good sense of humor, something which many people have told me. Then again, there are those who have commented - a minority of course - that my content is kind-of weird...
The supreme compliment, at least for me, was: "I feel your story is written more as a TV sitcom..."
Actually, writing a TV sitcom is something I've frequently thought about and unbeknownst to Jill, she has confirmed that I should pursue this avenue!
Since I feel my self-esteem and playwriting skills were assailed, I fired off a return e-mail to her that read:
"Dear Jill...I think,
You wrote: 'For good playwriting, I would suggest that you read someone like David Mamet.'
Uh-huh...I'm assuming here that means you don't like it... Don't hold back now - tell me your real feelings.
Usually, when I get a "no - not for us" I enter the information in my "they didn't like it" file and that's it. However... Since you made a point of suggesting that I read Mamet - I figure this requires a response.
I made it very clear from my first communication with you that "Gin..." was a comedy and you have to admit it is that. So 1 point for me, here. Perhaps had I sent you a synopsis of the play you would have noted that it is light fare and obviously not for you or your group/theatre. However, in all our e-mails you made it clear that you wanted to read it, ASAP, so I obliged. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Right? Your acrimonious e-mail response and knee-jerk reaction, however, took me by surprise. I mean - a comedy is a comedy is... I'm like...sorry that the content wasn't Mamet-like but then I never intimated it was/is. I'm a freelance writer/columnist/humorist by trade and as any editor of any publication in the world will tell you, comedy and humor is subjective... It was not and is not intended to be high drama. It IS however, pure escapist fun and that's all it was ever intended to be. Given the current state of the world these days, we all need a laugh - even you. Even Mamet.
May the force be with you and send along the play of your dreams,
See? There are hidden positive "messages" that all playwrights can find in those rejection letters if they would only take the time to interpret what the senders really mean!