Dear Playwrights: our New Works Liason [edited 1/11/2012 now called Literary Manager] is your key to getting your work read, and hopefully produced by Pipeline. But what are we looking for? What’s a New Works Liason? Well, we did a little interview with our resident NWL, Meagan, to answer all that and more!
Q: So, you’re Pipeline’s New Works Liason, what does that mean?
Meagan: It means I read new plays! Mostly. I spend a lot of time going to see new work, and seeking out new playwrights and befriending them. I also help the Artistic Development team and Literary team choose projects and pieces for Pipeline to support or work on. And I also try to cultivate new work within Pipeline itself by offering inspiration and support to the company members. I’m interested in everything from tiny get together workshops to fully produced new plays.
Q: That sounds like a lot of work! Do you have any assistance?
Meagan: Company members help me read submissions when I get too many. I often need a second or third opinion on a piece before I know what to do with it. I don’t like my opinion to be the only one determining how Pipeline may or may not work on something that is submitted. I also get a lot of referrals from company members who know writers, so at least 1/3 of the writers I’ve found were actually discovered by someone else first!
Q: Do you like your job? What drew you to that position? How has the position evolved over time?
Meagan: I love it! What’s to complain about reading plays? I love reading. I guess that’s part of what drew me to the position. I don’t like it when I have to read bad plays, but that’s another story. I got really interested in the process of working on new plays in college and interested in playwrighting myself, so it just made sense to sign up to do the job when I graduated and Pipeline was simultaneously being formed. Sadly I think lately I spend too much time reading to write myself. I sometimes think I would write more myself if I was reading less, but that’s probably just an excuse. I’ve learned more about writing from this job than I ever could on my own.
The position hasn’t evolved so much as just grown into what we always wanted it to be. When we first started, we didn’t have the resources or the know how to make it all happen, but almost 2 years later, we’re really doing a lot with new works – We’ve produced a few, one by company member Alex Mills, started Brave New Works (more thanks to Ari Schrier than me on that one), and I’m currently in the midst of reading submissions for our first play reading series, OUT LOUD [TODAY, jan 30th is the LAST day for Out loud submissions!]
Q: What are you looking for when you read a piece, in general?
Meagan: In general I’m looking for a few things. Strong dialogue, originality, distinct characters, an underlying meaning – ya know the basic tenets of good playwrighting. Mostly I’m looking for a sort of Pipelineness – and when I say that I guess I mean… an imaginative quality, a sense of sincerity, thoughtfulness; something that’s going to make the audience ask questions. Ya know, we are all these straight-theater trained actors, but for whatever reason we are really interested in taking that to a new place; a place where truth can come out of stories that have a heightened tone in some way.
Q: What is Pipeline looking for in a piece? Are there any guidelines that I must adhere to when submitting?
Meagan: I guess I sorta said this just now, but strictly requirement wise – the first thing I look at is the character breakdown. How many characters and how old are they? We are looking for more sizeable casts and its very important to us that they be at least 90% age appropriate. When I say age appropriate I mean that all of us are in our early 20s, meaning the majority of us can play late teens to late 20s, maybe early 30s for some of us, but the content can affect that. That said, if there’s one 60 year old character and the rest are age appropriate I’m not going to write it off – it all depends on ratios. If the character breakdown doesn’t work at all, I still usually read the first 10 – 20 pages to see if I like the writer’s style.
Q: Will you read a play in any stage— storyboards, first draft, final draft?
Q: What does Pipeline do with new works? Workshops? Readings? Fully produced plays?
Meagan: We do it all! New York only, though.
Q: How do I submit a piece that I’m working on?
Meagan: Easy Peasy. Just email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org Or if you want to send things through snail mail and save my eyeballs we have a P.O. Box, but I honestly don’t even know the address because no one has ever asked me about that! I could definitely find out, though, if you wanted! I also get really excited when people just invite me to come to readings/workshops instead of sending me scripts. I can’t always make it, but that’s my favorite.
P.S. We also look at musicals!