When Brian March was writing his first plays he would send them off blindly to theatre companies he found in the phone book, knowing it was unlikely they would ever get read. But on the rare occasion that his work would pass before a producer’s eyes, it was all worthwhile.
“I remember once receiving a letter back and somebody had read the script and pointed out some things about it, that they enjoyed, etc. and I was on like Cloud 9 just realizing somebody had read it and liked it to a certain extent,” he said.
That’s a feeling he’s hoping to give other aspiring and experienced playwrights through the New Waves Short Play Festival. Until April 30, the Western Edge Theatre artistic director is accepting submissions from writers from across the mid-Island for plays up to an hour in length with reasonable casting and production requirements.
March and Western Edge executive director Frank Moher will spend all of May reading through the submissions. In the end two or three plays will be selected and brought to the stage for the New Waves festival in September.
“What we’re looking for is, one, the quality of the piece, the writing, something that we think will work as a stage production, something that is manageable. Like we’re probably not going pick some big science fiction-type thing that requires a lot of set pieces and props,” March said.
“So a simplicity in the production values. Something that’s manageable, like perhaps not a cast of 25 or 30. Although, who knows? If the play is good enough and they’re willing to find the actors, then certainly there’s that. And something that has audience appeal.”
He added that the goal of New Waves is to involve the playwright with the production process, so that with Western Edge’s help and guidance they can learn how to take their play from the page to the stage. The plays that are not selected will still be read and returned with notes critiquing the works and encouraging the writers to keep at it.
“The idea is that there are many writers out there who have material that they’ve written and they sometimes submit for various purposes but they never get to see it produced or sometimes not even read, actually,” March said, speaking from experience.
“But in this case, they submit the pieces they know the pieces are being read by us because we’re choosing from those pieces but then we’re helping them to understand what it takes to put on a play.”
Western Edge will provide the chosen playwrights with modest financial assistance and would supply technical support, but the writers would be responsible for props and set pieces. March said involving the playwright is meant to teach the production process so that If they have a play they are passionate about they will be equipped to produce it themselves independently.
“Just seeing your work produced on stage is certainly a tremendously uplifting feeling, but as is the case in theatre, sometimes getting the first play produced isn’t that hard. It’s the second one that’s hard,” March said.
Those interested in submitting a play can do so by emailing Brian March at firstname.lastname@example.org. Applicants are asked to include contact information with their submissions.