Getting a reading of a ten minute play has not proven to be very difficult. So far I have managed to get three of my ten minute plays read. I even have video of the readings. Now I need another goal since my initial goal was to have anything at all done. My new goal will be to have a one act play read or performed.
The theater does not offer fame or fortune to the playwright. Most playwrights cannot make a living at it so playwriting remains a hobby even for the most talented writers. I have noticed that even successful playwrights receive very little feedback on their work. A published play on Amazon will have no reviews and a video of a reading or performance on YouTube will have no comments. This makes playwriting seem like a thankless and unrewarding activity.
I have been giving some thought on how to maintain my interest in playwriting since it can be so discouraging. I would not have written as much as I have if it had not been for a breakthrough in my understanding of motivation. The writer is often encouraged to write for the sake of writing. Unfortunately the muse will not cooperate when you write for no real reason. Writing for the sake of writing is like driving for the sake of driving. If you get in your car with the intention of just going on a joy ride, you will probably just sit there because you can’t think of where to go. The same thing happens to writers who don’t have anything in mind. Writing must serve some purpose. Writing should be seen as the means of achieving a goal. You need to envision a positive outcome or you won’t be motivated to do the writing.
So to maintain my interest in playwriting I need to have a clear objective. Since you cannot achieve anything by writing a play, the objective will have to be an artistic objective. In other words, I can’t expect to make any money at it or even receive much attention or recognition. Therefore whatever there is to be achieved must be achieved through the work itself. Just writing a play as great as The Glass Menagerie would be a good artistic objective. The sheer eloquence of your writing can be highly satisfying if you manage to express something noble. So that is one thing to shoot for.
Although theater is ephemeral, it can be exciting to see your vision brought to life. I was a little thrilled at how well my second ten minute play was performed. Although it was only a reading, the actors put some emotion into their reading and made the play work. I filled this ten minute play with many intriguing hints of great secrets. I don’t think anyone took that seriously but it was still exciting to see an actress read it with passion. That was pretty cool. So another objective would be to write something that I really want to see performed. I could fanaticize about the ultimate theater experience; a surreal experience of bizarre drama, fanciful costumes, garish makeup, and a sublime significance. I’ve never seen an ideal play that combines the surreal with the sublime but I can imagine it and I could strive to get such a play performed. It would be worthwhile just to see my conception of an ideal play. So that is another artistic objective.
But as a practical matter, it is hard to keep yourself inspired. My trips to New York City are certainly inspiring. I am trying to work more theater shows into my trips. Unfortunately I can’t afford to go to New York City too often, although I’ve managed to go once a month. I am currently taking an online course in playwriting and that is exciting. I should probably look for other writing workshops. There are always starving writers teaching writing workshops. I don’t think the workshop itself is very useful but participating in a workshop engages you in the writing life.
However, the most important means I have to maintain my interest in playwriting is through my own imagination. I can choose to invest more significance into theater than it deserves. I’ve become very good at heightening my sense of an object’s significance. I can choose to see theater as a sacred place. I can choose to inflate my slightest involvement with the theater into a matter of great import. For example, I can take a photo of a theater’s exterior and see that as a tragic gesture, an attempt to capture the magic of a cultural institution as an outsider. It is all a matter of subjective interpretation. After all, every minor event is a symbolic act to the writer.