The Dramatists Guild put out a bulletin today about a contest – the Wonderland One Act Festival. Not only is there a fee to submit a play to this festival ($15 ‘reading’ fee) there’s a registration fee ($185 dollars!!) if you get into the top 60 and then if you’re selected you pay another fee ($200) to self-produce your play. You don’t even get a production out of the deal.So basically, you don’t get a royalty, you don’t get a production (except if you do one on your own) and you have to PAY?
There is this conception that playwrights should be happy that companies are doing their work. Hey, it costs money to employ a reader, we can’t cover those costs, hey don’t you want to have people see your play, we can’t afford to pay you, you should be happy we’re doing your play at all.
Why should I be happy to work for free? Do teachers work for free? Do accountants work for free? Do waitresses work for free? Why is it those of us who work in the arts, in a lot of cases, are expected to work for free?
Sure, playwriting is not coal mining by any stretch of the imagination. But to assume that we’re all sitting around eating bon bons, waiting for inspiration and willing to work for free is complete crap. To suggest that I do not ‘work’ and therefore should not be paid makes my blood boil.
OK, stepping off soap box. Hopefully there’s enough press among playwrights about the festival now that the entries will be few and far between. But the sad thing is that there are those who want their work done so bad they will pay. And so companies will continue charging fees and the cycle continues.