There are a few times I wish for something different in my life, but every now and then I wish I were famous and people would take notice. Or maybe not famous, but working on a project where I had a famous brand or a famous patron in tow. It would make my life so much easier at the moment.
I have an opportunity I want to share with a group of writers who could then choose whether to take part – but I can’t get people to notice.
In 1991 I launched a writer project by getting Benny Green, a legendary radio presenter, and the Today Programme to announce it. Within five hours we had been heard about in many countries, the story had been reproduced in most of the National press, and by the deadline 491 writers had submitted their work from 16 countries for QuestFest 1992.
Over many years I launched searches with the glitter of Vivian Ellis or Cameron Mackintosh on the package, and we had unknown readers working in corners of tiny offices reading the work of around 200 writers at a time
Two months ago I launched a project by sending a press release, without the name of a famous patron. I personally contacted the editors of two of our leading trade journals and sent info to 10 other journalist friends. I circulated it on Twitter and Facebook to be seen by my 3-4,000 followers asking for them to broadcast, and nothing has happened, or virtually nothing.
My challenge is to bring an opportunity to British playwrights who have a play which deserves to be published and licensed around the world. The play will have been professionally produced once but has never gained the traction it deserves. Stagescripts 10@10 – deadline for online submission just two weeks away, 30 November.
I teach in Marketing that a “hit” needs 3-4 things out of a list of 6. What do we have here…A well known title (nope), an upbeat fun idea (yes), a star name (nope), presented by a star creative team or brand (nope), spectacular (nope) and necessary (yes). If this were a legendary director inviting relatively unknown playwrights to send them their finest unpublished, but previously produced, scripts to an office in the National Theatre ahead of an all singing, all dancing awards ceremony where 10 plays would be published which have been lost since their first professional productions. Now that’s high on the hit-ometer
At the launch there will be fireworks and champagne and, of course, the publisher is incredibly famous. Then, with the help of the Stage and maybe the “and finally” story on the Today programme we could have reached many hundreds of playwrights across the UK who could consider whether the offer were what they needed for their play. In my case, and my fictional firework event, we are looking for the same thing: A play which gained great notices when it was done professionally 5, 10, 15 years ago at a regional rep, or on tour, or in a studio space of one of our major houses. A play which deserves to have a new life, some added traction, and to be championed by a publisher.
This opportunity does exist for the writers – but I feel like Mr Cellophane at the moment – everyone is looking right through me.
In real life I have to remove the champagne, the sparkles, the famous address, the legendary director, the article in The Stage and the piece on Today. I’m left with 15 professional theatre directors and producers who are not famous, but are waiting after the deadline of 30th November to read your plays when presented to Stagescripts10@10 – a search for 10 plays which deserve to be published and championed for future productions.
You’re left with me and David, the founder of Stagescripts, wondering how to reach playwrights around the UK without the help of the press, bloggers, a major theatre or star-studded patronage. I’m left with a scheme which has been set up to find this work, and then to publish a 10th anniversary volume of plays and work over the next 3 years to get them produced, licensed, selected, and known about locally, nationally and internationally.
Maybe you, dear reader, could help me. We are getting submissions, and at first glance there are some really good ones. But this is a UK wide opportunity and we have 2 weeks to reach out to writers.
“I hope, I haven’t taken too much of your time”
My thanks to the legendary Kander & Ebb for the creation of Mr Cellophane and the lyrics in the image.