Well, for the one or two people who might be interested: the worst outcome has happened, and sometimes I wonder why I even bother. Some of you already know some of this. Last winter I pitched (as they say) my play to the artistic director at a local theater where I thought it would fit in. He read the script, told me he loved it, and offered me one or more staged readings sometime during the summer. Fast forward past some of the details, and a couple of weeks ago I was finally given a single date, today, July 31, which I was told was the only free date left this calendar year. Met with the director on the 17th to discuss casting, publicity via a FaceBook page, videotaping, etc., and we came up with a rehearsal schedule. On the date of the first rehearsal last Sunday morning, I arrived at the theater to find it locked, and checked my landline to find the director had left a voice mail saying some of his actors had conflicts that day and he’d try to schedule first rehearsal on Tuesday or Wednesday instead. Wednesday comes and goes, nothing has happened, so on Thursday I sent an email asking what was going on, and I’ve had no response. On top of that, another play scheduled for a staged reading yesterday has gotten its FaceBook page and was presented as expected.
In other words, they cancelled my reading, without notice, explanation, or discussion. I admit my play is intellectually demanding; it's all about the state of classical music in our society and makes references to all kinds of composers everyone here knows but might not be known on the outside. And I don't know of any other play that has done this; the few plays on classical music I know invariably deal with composers or performers; mine tries to deal with broader issues and several people on this forum have read it and seem to think it has some merit. What's more, this theater has done some similarly demanding things like Alan Bennett’s The History Boys and Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern; I approached this place because I thought it would respond to more challenging work, and as I say, the artistic director claimed he loved it and we have been negotiating for the past 4-5 months with every expectation that the reading would take place.
If they had rejected the play from the start I would have been disappointed, but rejection is the name of the game in theater. But they did accept it, I have a trail of emails to prove as much, they did set a date, and I had reasonable expectation they would take the necessary steps to cast, rehearse, and promote the event. What’s far worse than initial rejection is getting something accepted and then having the plug pulled at the last minute for unspecified reasons. My one faint hope is that maybe a date will open in the future and they’ll try again, but it's unlikely. I have sent a letter of polite but firm letter to the theater owner, not getting emotional but simply pointing out all the facts, and basically how I was led on for months before the whole thing fell apart just last week. It’s not as if I have anything to lose, and under the circumstances I have every right to complain.
I do have a couple of other faint leads for this play, but I'm basically ready to throw in the towel as a failed effort on my part. Or I could keep trying; Margaret Edson's play W;t was rejected by 60 theaters, and then everyone wanted to do it (all we like sheep) because it won the Pulitzer Prize. Of course it's easy to argue that the reason they rejected my play was because it was good; but that's Saul Dz. thinking and I'm not Saul Dz. It could well be that it's not a good play. But the reading at least would have helped me see if that was the case, and now I won't have that opportunity.
A lousy week all told.