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I have a question about play development.  I've been writing plays for a while, but recently wrote my first one for young audiences.  (I'd say, it is appropriate for grade 4-6 or around there.)  I have sent it off to a couple of play development programs for plays for young audiences.  The script, although complete, could certainly use some work- which is why I'd love to get into one of these development programs- especially since it is my first script for this age group.  I recently had my playwriting group (which is composed solely of people who write for adults) hear some scenes- and some of the comments I got (about simplifying for the age group) lead me to believe that my group has some preconceived ideas about what a play for children should sound like- anyway, all the more reason to get accepted into a development program focused on this type of theatre.

So, my question is this:  how finished should a script be before I submit?  I have what I consider to be a really solid full draft, but as I said, it needs work.  Should I make it my idea of perfect before sending it out more?  (My fear then, is that I won't even want to develop it further.)

A second question:  does anyone have ideas for places where I might send it?  I've sent it to the Bonderman and Childsplay in Arizona (and keeping my fingers crossed!), but I was wondering if there was anyone on the boards with more experience in this area.  Many professional children's theatres seem to take agent submssions only or commision their work.  (Maybe I am wrong about that.)

I look forward to hearing from anyone with thoughts and suggetions!
#1 - October 09, 2008, 04:29 AM

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First question: I'd apply the same rule we apply for other ms submissions. Submit when it's as good as you can get it to be. I believe most development projects want scripts at a stage where the next step is testing it on actors and audiences (not polishing the shape or voice). Remember, you face plenty of competition for those development slots.

Second question: go the opposite route of the one-shot development workshop. Try to get your play workshopped or produced in a theater close to where you live. Look for college or community groups that perform plays for young audiences.

In my experience, community theater directors of TYA are often experienced and enthused--way out of proportion to their low-paying, low-fame circumstances. Many of them are educators in fact or by nature, and you might find your director becomes your best critic--possibly even your mentor or partner in developing more scripts. I know several successful authors of Theater for Young Audiences who developed all their scripts in the same theater, in their own home town.

Working this way, you might not make much (or anything) the first time your play is produced. But you get to see the play on its legs, to see and hear what works and what doesn't. Next, you have a script that you can submit to more publishers (many publishers of TYA scripts require proof that the submitted play has been produced at least once). I believe that you can also go on to submit the script to most of the national development competitions. Or you can market the script in other ways--online, for example--as a play that has been produced. Reviews from local papers or audience members might help you market. Finally, you might become Resident Playwright for your local theater, automatically getting a workshop or full production for each of your scripts.

Break a leg!

p.s. Reading back over this note, I realize it may look as though I'm against entering the big competitions. I'm not. I'm suggesting your local theater as an additional avenue to explore.
#2 - October 09, 2008, 06:39 AM
« Last Edit: October 10, 2008, 05:15 AM by Susan »

TADA! Theatre in N.Y. has contests every year, but I believe they're open to general submissions, too. It's been a few years, but I've subbed a few one acts there  with kind rejections and a request to send more. I've taken my elementary school aged kids to a few shows there and the plays and production quality is high.

Theatre Works does excellent, traveling shows to schools across the country---try submitting to them (main offices in NY) or contacting them for more info about developing a new piece.

Also, you might contact the Theatre Development Fund--also out of NY. I know they help with plays for the adult market and they may have a program for the children's market, too---or at least point you in the right direction.

Good luck!

#3 - October 09, 2008, 08:08 AM
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Thanks for the advice!  Now, to keep working on the script (along with all my other WIPs!)   :typing
#4 - October 10, 2008, 01:18 PM


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