An interactive blog for playwrights
By BoLOHLONE payday loans
I’ll be honest.
The reason I haven’t blogged in a while isn’t really because I’ve been flat out with life outside playwriting. I have been working long hours, covering two roles, planning a wedding and been a little too obsessed with a culinary TV phenomenon – but if I wanted to find the hours to blog, I could have.
The truth is, I haven’t blogged in a while because I’ve been downright depressed about playwriting in Australia. Ralph Myer’s announcement that B Sharp was no more – the downstairs space would be dark for most of 2011, there would be less slots than one could count on their hand and, oh by the way, they’ve already programmed 2011 – was a crushing blow for Aussie playwrights and theatremakers hoping to pitch potential shows for 2011 onwards.
The Belvoir Downstairs theatre suddenly became akin in the worst way, to Griffin Independent, or as it is unaffectionately referred to in playwright circles, ‘Griffin UnAustralian.’ As Griffin Independent was only open to international plays (which somehow was meant to be beneficial for Australian playwrights – still scratching our heads on that one), now Belvoir Downstairs is ‘invite only’ like STC’s Next Stage season. While stalwarts like the Old Fitz and the new Under The Wharf season at atyp offer some slots of hope, the window of opportunity for productions in Sydney at least, seemed to be narrowing by the week.
In the meantime I seem to get emails every week about a new, fresh and exciting theatre collective who is going to offer – guess what – workshop developments for playwrights. I am, like so many other playwrights, grateful for these opportunities, but we don’t need more developments, we need production slots where we can really test our plays.
Add to this an article in Spectrum which really put me in the downward spiral. In fact I sat down at work for a rare lunch break, opened the paper to see this. A general summary indicates definitively that Australian theatres don’t want to program Australian plays and it’s not going to get any better, and that you’re an idiot if you think you’ll ever make any money out of playwriting. In the printed version there was even a little box in the corner that was a sort of ‘In a nutshell – how bad the pay issue really is for playwrights,’ contrasting what a TV writer is paid for a 30 minute episode versus a playwright who had toiled over a script for oh, two years? Which by the way might not even see the light of day let alone a theatre. Those of us that do get commissions, rarely see the theatre company take it to production. Oh, and the icing on the cake? Even our top playwrights don’t even make that much from the box office. So… have you given up yet?
I also lost count of the number of people I know who stopped me to say “Oh Jo, did you see that article in Spectrum the other day about playwrights?” (Insert sad face) I eventually answered to one, “Yes, and yes it did make me want to kill myself. Thanks.”
Last week however, a few little rays of sunshine appeared. One that, however small, sent a wave of celebration amongst Australian playwrights. I actually didn’t take any notice of Griffin Independent’s call for submissions for their 2011 season. I should have. In fact I found out about the news from, of all places, Facebook.
Sam Strong has opened up Griffin Independent to new Australian plays. Now, before you jump the gun, international plays will still be accepted and there is no quota on how many Aussie plays will be accepted. But as far as I’m concerned, if there’s only one new Aussie play on that stage as part of Griffin Independent, I’ll be very happy.
Griffin’s decision to only accept international plays seemed to go against everything they stood for. It is of course Australia’s new writing theatre, one in which many of Australia’s top playwrights got their start. By not accepting any plays at the independent level, they denied any emerging writers of a chance to have their work on. We would have to graduate straight to mainstage, which was impossible. Now the stepping stone is back in place where it should be. It’s a small decision which is already having a big, positive impact in the Australian playwriting community.
Since then through my inbox are trickling some really exciting opportunities, of which I’ll post this week.
And with this is my renewed vigour for blogging here. Even just touching base with you all, is fantastic. So please leave a comment with how this all affects you, what you’re excited about/pissed off about, and what’s driving you right now to put those words on the page.
Happy writing (and it’s good to be back),