A Warm Winter in Montana

It’s been a warm winter here in Montana. Seldom below 20. Yes, I realize that is below freezing but for Montana, it is practically a heat wave. I’ve kept myself even warmer catching up on submissions from reading scripts to editing scripts to marketing scripts to offering contracts to sending rejections…not one of my favorite things to do, but only about 1 in 10 submissions are accepted. Some authors may wonder what makes the difference between a script that I warm up to and one that leaves me cold. One may be surprised that it isn’t a brand new playwright that gets the cold shoulder. Ironically, they are usually easy to spot with ill formatted scripts and one page scenes that translate into four or five page acts. Okay, so I admit, the Act I that runs four pages is an instant turn-off and usually ends up with a quick, thank you for submitting but I don’t think your play fits our market. On the other hand, we recently received a play that looked like the author had never typed a script in his life…and probably hadn’t…and yet it was one of my favorite works of the new year; quirky characters with deep, dark, humor that grabbed me from the first utterance, and I do mean utterance, of the former high school athletic star that now sat sputtering “Get him!” from his wheelchair while his father poured him endless glasses of whiskey. Yeah, it’s true, the author needed to tighten the script and solve inconsistencies, but it is our pleasure to work with him because, frankly, it was not just a good play, but a REALLY good play and we are pleased to have the opportunity to publish it. Old themes from new perspectives also catch our attention. One of our recent favorites the “professor having an affair with his young protege”…heard that enough. But the professor is a master of mime and his wife tends her garden as if the only problem in life is to raise her son like the plants she nourishes…and those images and sensibilities translated become fresh like greens in the garden silently devoured by the insects that feed on them. Sometimes the mere list of characters and setting at the beginning of the script invite me to curl up with a warm blanket and hot cup of tea and see where the story takes me. Okay, so I read scripts on the computer, but the tea is always next to me…and the sign of a good play is one where I find myself on page 30 and my tea is cold. If by page 10 the page is cold and the tea gone, I typically skip to the end and read the final scene to see if anything may have transpired that would warrant my reading a single page more. I do wish more authors penned comedies, and more understood the difficulty of many theatres in casting a play with 8 men and no woman…though that doesn’t keep us from publishing a fine script of all men but there is a greater chance your script will be read cover to cover with a cast of 8 women. All in all, though, the real winners are good writers. Well, not just good, but REALLY good. And it never fails to amaze us what exceptional scripts we receive from established writers…not just those living in big cities on the east or west coasts, but in small towns all across America. There is no such thing as a “local” writer when it comes to exceptional material and supporting the work of a talented author from your hometown is better than a cup of hot tea on a cold day in February and for me that is a high mark to hit.