I've had a handful of conversations with playwrights over the years about the "numbers game" aspects of this calling, Even though we're always striving to write the highest quality plays we possibly can, there is a distinct quantity aspect to the vocation, at least at this level - partially due to the subjectivity of what gets selected for any given opportunity, and partially due to what feels like sheer inertia. The fact that more of my plays are getting done seems to beget even more of my plays getting done. Of course, writing all the time, getting plays published with ambitious publishers, and hooking up with frequent-producing entities (that have an affinity for what I do) also seems to help. And it's all a signal of upward momentum in this career - right? Probably? Maybe?
Over the past 30 months, I've had a total of 50 productions and public readings of various plays in numerous venues through the U.S. and abroad.
That figure is nearly the same number of productions and readings that I had during the previous 11 years of writing (going back to my last year at UCSD). Some of these productions and readings have been very small - just one performance for dozens of people; some have been larger, running dozens of performances over numerous weeks for thousands of attendees. But what does that mean for my playwriting career? Here's some figures, by the numbers:
- Since 2004 I've had 40 plays produced a total of 79 times. Three of these plays are "stand-alone" long plays, sixteen are 10-minute plays, one is a rollicking one-minute play, and the rest are one-acts pf various lengths.
- My most produced play is an adaptation of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow which has been produced nine times, 24 of
my plays have been produced exactly once.
- I've had, or will have by the end of the year, 13 plays receive staged readings that haven't yet been produced, and I've had roughly 30 readings of plays that were eventually produced in one form or another.
- My plays have been produced in 19 states (AZ, CA, FL, ID, IL, IN, IA, KY, MD, MA, NE, NV, NM, NY, SD, PA, VA, WA, and WI) and six countries - USA, Canada, England, Scotland, Japan, and Cameroon.
- I'd never thought about it until now but between actors, directors, designers, choreographers, dramaturgs, stage managers, production crew, puppeteers, and other specialists, I've had the astounding fortune to have upwards of 1,000 theatre artists (including students) engage with my plays. I haven't met most of them, but it's humbling and inspiring to know that they're out there.
- I don't have a great way of determining the precise number, but if I had to place a guess, I'd hazard that roughly
30,000 patrons have seen my plays over the years. That's a funny number to think about, especially in the age of YouTube (I mean my wife watches a channel that features a cat eating food - it's not a funny cat, it's not strange food; just a cat, eating food... that has millions of subscribers)... so I don't know.
All of this feels like a formidable body of work,... yet, I'm not nearly as far along in my playwriting career as I want to be. Some of those productions and readings are the proudest, richest, most important experiences of my life, many were "fine," and a small handful were downright regrettable. But it's all moving me forward, if not upward, right? Towards happiness? Contentment? Even if only fleeting... I sure hope so.