Erasing history

Most theatres have Web sites.  Most theatre Web sites have the (understandable) goal of getting potential audiences to those theatres to see their work, potential donors to donate money, potential actors and directors to associate with the theatre, and in general to educate the public about their reason for existence.

The theatres may or may not be interested in getting playwrights to submit plays to them. Yet, it is the desire of (most) playwrights to submit plays to theatres in hopes of getting a production. Unfortunately, many theatres omit some very basic information for playwrights from their Web site:

1. Whether and under what conditions a theatre accepts a script or query from a playwright.

As a playwright, I only want to submit to theatres that are interested in hearing from an unknown playwright such as myself. If theatres don’t put this information – whether they take unsolicited scripts or queries – on their Web site, I wind up having to query them about their submission policies, an extra step for both of us. Yes, there is the Dramatists Guild Resource Guide, but that only gets updated once a year. Also, not all theatres are in the guide, especially small theatres that a budding playwright such as myself might wish to seek out.

2. The theatre’s production history for at least the last few years.

As a playwright, I want to have a reasonable idea that a script I am considering submitting to a theatre is likely to be reasonably welcome in terms of subject matter, edginess or lack thereof, language, style, and so on. Listing recent productions and authors gives me the ability to search for more information about those plays and compare them to my own for appropriateness. I don’t want to waste my time or the theatre’s personnel’s time sending a play that is totally inappropriate for a particular theatre. I also want to discover what future plays that I am writing or plan to write might be appropriate for the future.

Of course one could say that I could use search engines to seek out the production history of a theatre. Believe me, I’ve tried. The typical result is that the search turns up pages of theatre listings for a city for a particular date, and I get a lot of data about other theatres, or productions that are renting the theatre, and similar irrelevant results.

3. When there have been any significant changes in the theatre’s mission, taste, personnel, or ability to do certain types of plays, e.g., number of actors, within the last few years that make the production history before that time less relevant.

4. Put your address on the Web site (at the very least the city and state).

5. Put dates on the Web site so we can tell how recently it has been updated.

I hope all theatres will put this information on their Web sites.

[Hat tip to Bobbi Chukran for items 4 and 5]

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