Erik Sherman

Complex ideas elegantly expressed

Producer’s Notebook

I clicked the send button. Something that simple was enough to send me down a road of what I expect to be future irritation and expense. The queued emails were requests for plays, as I am producing an evening of new plays in March at the Shea Theatre.

It’s the third annual festival, and the executive director of the theatre wanted to unload the burden of attending to the bulk of the details. Last year I had produced a play for the Playwrights’ Platform entry, as it has been driving in a show the two-and-a-half hours from Boston every year. That was a minor pain in its own right, but it came off well.

So why ask for more – and why bother to write about it here? I’m hoping that the experience might help playwrights understand what goes on when they submit plays – and I’m hoping that this will help attract some good material.

You see, the first announcement hit a playwrights mailing list this morning and, so far, not a single play has come in to the email address I set up. I’m sure (I hope) in a few days that my concern will turn to dismay at the avalanche of reading. But this is part of being a producer – worrying. It makes me a natural. There are so many things that can go wrong: no plays or, maybe worse, bad plays arriving. A director that flakes. Actors dropping out of the production as though there were flies at a frog picnic. Money. The clash of titanic egos. Money. One publication after another not bothering to list the production announcement. Money. More money.

We’re long past Micky Rooney and Judy Garland getting a barn and a blanket: “Let’s put on a show, kids!” Sure, we can do things like work with theater groups to split the work in getting the actual plays onto the stage, but someone has to recruit them. And to pay for the lights and the heat in the non-profit theater building – and the advertising to get people to come – there’s also fund raising.


Always be ready to pull a rabbit out of the hat.

First Entry

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