I’ve been taking a good hard look at what makes me tick.
The Astor Street Opry Company (ASOC) in Astoria, Oregon, is sponsoring a playwriting competition. To enter, one must submit three copies of each manuscript, along with a check for $15, per play, by October 1.
There is no monetary “prize” awarded. There are no royalties paid. The only “reward” for having your play selected is the “honor” of seeing it produced at their theater.
I am adamantly opposed to charging a reading fee to enter a competition. I am appalled that there is no compensation for the writing labor that goes into creating a performable play. If I stood on my principles, I would not enter.
My ego, on the other hand, says, “Yeah, but don’t you want to see if you’d win?” Well, yes, of course, but “winning” doesn’t pay the bills.
In my “Insights for Playwrights” newsletter (another $45 a year out-of-pocket), I found a playwriting contest in Woodland, Washington, where $100 was the top prize. I couldn’t enter, however, because technically, my plays do not qualify. They don’t fit the criteria of “unproduced,” although I’m sure no one from Woodland ever saw them. What a shame!
I firmly believe that there must come a time when playwrights are valued and respected and PAID. Just because I’m “local” and my plays are not listed with Samuel French (yet), doesn’t seem to stop the community theaters from presenting them. So why don’t they kick a little money back into the hands of those who labor over every word?
When my plays were produced in Raymond last March, the playhouse netted almost a thousand dollars. I didn’t get a dime. When my most recent play was done in Ilwaco, the theater paid out $120 for another play’s scripts, and $120 in royalties on top of that. They still cleared almost $500. Again, I didn’t receive a dime.
So today I wrestle with issues of ego versus principles. How badly do I want to see my name on another playbill? How much will I resent it when I’m not compensated for my work, and the theater makes money off my writing? I have three days to decide.