Monday, August 16, 2010

Call for Plays

It's another Catclaw call for scripts! Short plays, one-acts and full-lengths are being considered for performance. We'll sincerely look at anything we receive, but some helpful guidelines and suggestions from our Artistic Director, Jeffrey Scott Holland, are probably in order:

  • No contemporary politics. We aren't interested in plays about modern political issues or figures. For example, David Hare's very successful play Stuff Happens presents us with Bush Administration figures standing around onstage talking about terrorism and war, for three hours. We're supposed to be impressed that much of the dialogue is taken verbatim from their actual Oval Office discussions. To paraphrase the great Truman Capote, that's not writing, that's just cut-and-pasting.

    A historical political play, on the other hand, would be more likely to interest us. But even then, a dry essay on Warren Harding's political misdeeds would bore us just as dreadfully as one about Bush's.

  • No preachy social issues. There's an unfortunate trend these days towards shorter, simpler, smaller-scale plays that invoke certain buzzwords that look good on certain kinds of grant applications. And so we're seeing more and more plays that consist of just two or three characters (or even just one monologuing his or her heart out) on a minimal set, talking about "relevant social and political issues." If you ask me - and I know you didn't - that kind of "Theatre of NPR" jazz is about as interesting as watching a staged reading of transcripts from the Congressional Record.

    Kia Corthron's Trade (one of the 2007 Humana Plays) consists of two women, one of whom is an American wearing a burqa as a form of protest, sitting around talking about politics in the Middle East. And that's it. I'm Not kidding. According to the Feminist Spectator's review of the show, "Corthron crystallizes issues of identification and empathy that overshadow our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, the politics of the Taliban, and the detentions at Guantanamo".

    Well, that's just great. If I wanted to watch CNN, I would have stayed at home and done so.

  • No audience-interactive "figure out the murderer" mysteries. That's a genre we scarcely recognize as legitimate theatre, but it's not our cup of tea regardless.

  • No children's plays. By that, we mean plays for children. But plays that give serious, even starring, roles to children are welcome.

  • No plays that call for strobe lights, video monitors or music cues of contemporary pop/rock music. We don't do strobe lights. We don't do video monitors. We just don't. Plays that specifically require modern pop/rock will be jettisoned - partially because we don't want to bother with the copyright issues but more importantly, because we don't want to associate ourselves with those bands/artists. (We once had a director who, over our objections, wanted to use not just one but several songs from a Katy Perry CD in a play. Katy Perry, of all things. To put it mildly, Katy Perry is a perfect example of the kind of culture we are trying to get as far away from as possible.

  • No "argument" plays. Avoid plays that rely heavily on people yelling and screaming and arguing. The real world is already filled with obnoxious and irrational people; we don't need to see more of the same onstage. And putting these arguments in a setting with ethnic stereotypes will guarantee we don't even finish reading it.

    Alrighty then, get the picture? (Say "yes, we see.") If there's anything left in your word hoard that this extensive hate-list didn't disqualify, you might already be a winner. Dust off that pretentious surrealist play you wrote about the ghost of a 19th century Russian princess who ends up developing an obsessive relationship in 1933 with a British Freemason and safari hunter who now lives in Ohio and works in a bank that turns out to be a front for a pagan religious cult with charming but eccentric rituals.

    Direct e-mail submissions to