Should a play be produced before it’s published?

Here’s a question we frequently get from playwrights.

Do you require that plays have been produced before you’ll publish them?

Require? No? Prefer? Yes.

I’d like to take a moment to explain why.

Performance is the main goal of a play, publication is the last step

Some playwrights measure their success by publication, but I think the true measure of success of a playwright is performance. Plays thrive on stage, so it’s a much stronger goal to be a “performed” playwright than a “published” playwright.

A production demonstrates the author’s commitment to the play

The fact that you’ve produced the script or, even better, gotten someone else to produce the script demonstrates that you’re behind it, that you’re committed to getting it out in the world, that you’re passionate about the script. Put your money where your mouth is is an applicable adage. We want authors who are enthusiastic about their work. Enthusiastic authors make our jobs easier.

A production reveals things to the author they might never know otherwise

Plays are living things. Publication sets them in stone. So before setting the play in stone, you really want to make sure it’s going to stand on its feet. How does the audience respond? Are they impacted the way you intended? Are your stage directions clear to the director? Are the characters clear to the actors? Does the story flow fluidly? Are the scene transitions smooth or do they slow the pace of the play?

A production measures the running time

From our perspective, decently accurate running times are vital. Many of our customers are looking for plays for competitions, which have very strict time limitations. Knowing how long a play runs is very important to us.

Productions help us know the play works

We’re at a disadvantage when we read play submissions. We know they’re living things and should be seen and heard rather than read, so we have to pretend we’re watching them when we’re reading them. Sometimes we’ll have questions – How do you efficiently put a hundred cat hairs on stage? It’s very helpful for us to understand how real productions solve questions about the play.

About the author

Craig Mason