Friday, September 10, 2010

testimonials - solicited or not

Well I've started to collect nice things that people have said about NYCPlaywrights, to post on the web site and help promote the group - I have emails scattered about in various places and don't have enough time to find them all, so I could have more than what I have... but what I have is pretty good.

Certainly not everybody has liked the way I've run NYCPlaywrights - for its entire history the emphasis has been on honest feedback, not the usual "constructive" happy-happy talk that many groups promote. I wrote an article about that for the NYCPlaywrights web site.

Actually, the approach of NYCPlaywrights is even more extreme than that - the philosophy of NYCPlaywrights is that the most important feedback is body language, rather than verbal. An article by Jeff Sweet on that subject is also on the NYCPlaywrights web site.

A former member of NYCPlaywrights sent me this recently:

I'd been in writers workshops of various stripes for a few years, but was still getting the hang of the many slippery elements that combine to create good theatrical entertainment. I wanted to hear my work in front of a New York audience to get a feel for where I was in the process, but had no idea where to begin. Someone pointed me at NYC Playwrights and I joined after my first meeting.

When the actors picked up my script, I was trembling with fear that I'd hear nothing but the lines and dead silence. But even on a cold reading, these actors were so skilled that the audience fell about with laughter (which was fine, because it was a comedy, and the floor was carpeted). I left feeling a huge jolt of confidence (or maybe it was the ten cups of coffee I had beforehand).

I continued to sign up for time and had my work read at a number of meetings, very grateful for the audience reactions and feedback (some of it brutally direct -- I'd much rather hear a real reaction than a sugar-coated compliment that's meant to make me feel good -- and some if it slightly off-track but genuine anyway). I used this "live theatre lab" to reshape pieces and make them stronger. Additionally, I met a bevy of talented writers, actors and directors at NYCP, some of whom I've worked with on productions since.

For the first time, I started submitting work to festivals -- and getting acceptance letters. In the last two years I've had nearly two dozen short plays produced around the country. It really all started for me by having a live audience and a place to be heard at NYC Playwrights. Thank you, Nancy!

Stuff like that makes all the work and hassles worth it.

A few years ago, another (former) member of NYCPlaywrights gave me a copy of his published script with this inscription:
Nancy, this play got published mostly because of NYCPlaywrights and your personal input! Many thanks, (his signature)
Unlike the previous testimonial I don't have explicit permission to cite this one because shortly after I was given the script the writer decided to repay my good will towards him with absolute contempt and unprofessional behavior (such as being abusive towards the stage crew - I have that in writing from the stage manager) - and when I called him on it, responded by refusing to communicate with me in any way, for any reason, ever after - which led to more unprofessional behavior since he refused to respond to all business-related communications too. So I have no qualms about using this - he owes me at least this much - and I have it in his own handwriting, and signed too. So suck it.

This testimonial is not only used by explicit permission, I have permission to quote him by name - Trey Tatum, playwriting curator of the Tank said he was a huge fan of the NYCPlaywrights web site and said
you guys run it really well - exhaustively researched resource

Three testimonials are nice, but I know I can dig up some more.