Thursday, February 6, 2014

New Play

Dear Glyn, 
Thank you very much for sending The Muse's Darling to us and many apologies that it has taken us so long to get back to you about it. Whilst we enjoyed the play a great deal I'm afraid we're not going to be able to offer it a home here which we hope will not be too disappointing. 
Thank you for sharing your work with us, I wish you the very best of luck with The Muse's Darling and with all your writing projects.
Very best wishes,
Associate Director. 

When I was but two bricks and a pisspot high as we used to say, aged eight, I was trundled off to boarding school on doctor’s orders in an effort to ease an asthmatic condition and the contents of my suitcase all carefully labelled were also itemised, for example: Blazer black 1, Shirts white 4, Shirts khaki 6, Shorts khaki 6, Shorts grey 2, Socks black 8, etcetera.
Having given some thought to the e-mail above I decided, as I approach my 83rd birthday,  I would open my lifetime suitcase and itemise it’s contents, at least as far as writing is concerned. It might not be totally accurate. There are half finished works I haven’t included, projects started but not pursued, and stuff I am bound to have forgotten or that doesn’t fit into any particular category: for example “Alice In Winterland” a two part television ice spectacular with original songs; but anyway, here we go:

Plays, stage 24.
Musicals, Book and lyrics 8.
Libretti, opera 2.
Plays television 9.
Plays screen  8
Documentaries 5
Series television 3 “Doctor Who” 4 scripts. “The Magnificent 6½” 6 scripts plus ghosting for the second series. “The Double Deckers” 9 scripts and script editor for the 13 part series.
Pilots 5

Autobiography “No Official Umbrella” 1.
Novels 4
The Thornton King series - Comedy thrillers 6
Zeta Magazine - Issues 1 to 6
Blogs  ‘No Official Umbrella’ 892

Not a bad output when you take into account how many hours have been spent in other directions; acting, directing, teaching and jobs away from the theatre.
But back to the e-mail that started all this. I am very glad that those who read it in this particular theatre “enjoyed the play a great deal.” So, if it was enjoyed a great deal I have to ask the question why does it stop there? Did they believe an audience would not enjoy it a great deal? Or was there some other reason? In all the many rejections’ I have had in my lifetime I cannot remember a single instance in which I have been given a REASON for the rejection, only a phrase such as “thank you but not for us,” the standard sort of notice, sometimes curt, sometimes, as with this one, with more courtesy. In the old days of hard-copy only the script (SAE for its return if you were lucky to have it returned at all) would land with a thud on the mat, now it is all done electronically which at least saves a lot of money. The nearest I ever got to some sort of reasoning if it was a theatre play was, “Have you thought of trying it for television?” or a television play, “Have you thought of trying it for Theatre?” which gets the recipient nicely off the hook. I am fully aware of theatre managements drowning under an avalanche of plays, that’s the way it has always been and as it has always been it takes an act of God to get something accepted. An original musical takes an act of God in convocation with all his angels, archangels, seraphim, and cherubim which is probably why my version of “Peter Pan” is the only one to be produced. A miracle is required here but unfortunately I do not believe in miracles.
So why was “The Muses Darling” turned down? I‘ve read it and reread it and, after receiving this rejection I read it again. Has my treatment conjuring up England of the period not been exemplary? Are there hilarious anachronisms I haven’t spotted? I don’t see any. With all honesty I can only boast my scholarship and my research if not exemplary come close to it. Does the dialogue sound false? I have tried and I believe succeeded, using just a few words, the occasional ‘prithee’ or ‘God’s blood’ for example in bridging the gap been modern and Elizabethan English and no actor should have any difficulty with it – I speak from 50 years experience as an actor. Are the characters cardboard or two dimensional? I think not. If I were the right age I would give my eye teeth to play a part like Marlowe. Is there no humour in the play? If you believe that reread the post mortem scene. Is there something desperately wrong with plot and dramatic balance? Nothing that couldn‘t be put right in rehearsal. Is the play considered too expensive with a large cast (even with doubling and tripling) and period costume but if this is what has put the cat among the pigeons (clich√© but apt) let me finally ask you this. How often does a provincial theatre, even a prestigious one, get the opportunity of presenting a world premiere of what is, I have no doubt about it, a major work? And if it is considered a major work how difficult would it be to get sponsorship?
Whenever I read details as to what a theatre wants to-day in choosing a play it has usually to be the work of a young lion showing promise and relevant to to-day’s problems. Well this is a scraggly old lion and not all can relate to contemporary issues.
There is nothing new in the Marlowe/Shakespeare theory. It’s been going on for ages. It has fascinated me for a long time and I just wanted to write it in my own way; a way I hope that will intrigue, entertain, say just little bit of England at the time. (Did you know that to masturbate was referred to as ‘pulling the pope?’) And be appreciated by both academe and a wider public.
Bearing all this is mind naturally I am disappointed and I would dearly love to know why the play did not find favour.
Yours sincerely,



Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

I love this post. Did you send a letter back to the Associate Director? The plays selected for performance at local colleges, community theatres and high schools are usually always familiar fare. I suppose the typical practice for a theater today is to choose something that has a ring of familiarity to it in the hope that it will perhaps draw an audience larger than the performers' family members. We have created the franchise-world around us. If we don't recognize something, we pass by and choose the familiar fare. Shooting and posting a YouTube video with a good script behind it is perhaps the best way for a script writer (budding playwright) to perhaps nurture a following these days. There is so much access to viewer content and a screen is now portable enough to go everywhere and anywhere. Motivating individuals to put down their viewing screen in order to drive for miles to entertainment, forgo their comfy chairs, relinquish immediate refreshment access, surrender their private toilets, and pass on the pause button, is a grand challenge.