Yes, I know it all seems quite glamorous – the life of a community theater playwright. You got the typing. You got the thinking. You got the white dog sitting steadfast in your little office full of crumpled papers, plays other people have written, and the odd tie or two thrown over your music stand, with sheet music form a song you have no chance of playing because – well – you’re always typing. If word processing electrons – deleted from paragraphs to inane to use – cost money, you’d have to start selling off household items. Even so, it is never so glamorous as when you have a box full of scripts freshly printed form the local FedEX store, a box of binders from the local college bookstore, and a tiny three hole punch that can manage three, maybe four pages, and two hours before the first rehearsal for the public reading of the play you wrote, which you are convinced needs a lot more structure.
But hell, that’s what public readings are for. Right?
You never know the true glamour of being a community theater playwright until the green worn out carpet in your little home office is covered with hundreds of tiny white dots from the bag you knocked over after you punched about one thousand pages. It looks like winter in some distant world where their God has OCD and everything is symmetrical.
With 15 days to go, I spent yesterday trying to make sure the actors and director had everything they needed for the first rehearsal. A couple of things I learned:
- Do not go to any self-service kiosk if you need a lot of copies of a script. Those things can cost a lot. Go to the counter and special order your printing; it can shave almost half off the cost. I almost fainted when I saw one price of 12 cents a sheet.
- Be frugal; not cheap. Check around for some good, inexpensive binders. The actors and directors are sacrificing to bring your work to life the least you can do is throw your script in a binder. I got a great deal at the seedy college junk store.
- Bring pencils.
At 7 p.m. these wonderful people from the Chapel Street Players gathered on the stage, sitting in a circle of metal folding chairs and began the first read through. Although we laughed and joked, there was seriousness underlying the read through as each actor worked to find their voice for the public reading. Accents and volume changed as the actors and directors worked their way through the 90-some odd pages.I sat amazed as these wonderfully talented people went through my script. I heard things in it I didn’t even realize were there. Hearing all this invigorated me to make my re-writing at least equal to their acting. I was frankly humbled by it all.
There are quite a few clunkers in there will have to eventually need fixing, but on the whole hearing the play read by people who know what they’re doing was astonishing.