"Dying to get my play produced" - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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"Dying to get my play produced"


February 26, 2006
Just Dying to Get That Play Produced

I RECENTLY wrote to a number of the most prestigious theaters in New York informing them that because they've repeatedly refused to accept my new play for consideration I've decided to kill myself. Lincoln Center Theater was the first to respond. They said they don't accept unsolicited suicide notes.

I wrote them back asking how I could get on the list of potentially posthumous playwrights from which they solicit. They wrote back saying I couldn't. They said that their list consists exclusively of writers who are so famous that they are often known by only one name, and that I clearly didn't fall into that category because I was unknown by two. Lincoln Center suggested that I explore theaters with lower standards and wished me success in taking my life.

I next heard from the Manhattan Theater Club. Their policy is to read only synopses of suicide notes. I wanted to kill myself. Synopses have never been my long suit, and I knew that if I didn't make my suicide note compelling I was a dead man. Nevertheless, I gave it a shot. This is what I sent: "Allan Katz's compelling suicide note chronicles the compelling struggle of his frustration with New York's compelling theater scene compelling him to consider taking his own life — a compelling read for anyone who enjoys being compelled."

The Manhattan Theater Club rejected my synopsis because it violated their rule that a synopsis can't be more than twice as long as the submission.

The Atlantic Theater Company informed me that they read only excerpts from suicide notes. This posed a problem: My suicide note was only 15 words long, so there wasn't much that could be excerpted. I settled on the segment that dealt with the suicide itself, which read, "I've decided to kill myself." I haven't heard back from them, but my understanding is that if they're interested, the next step is that they request an excerpt from a synopsis — or vice versa.

Playwrights Horizons will read only suicide notes submitted by a qualified agent (an oxymoron if I ever heard one). I asked my agent to submit it, but he said he didn't accept suicide notes directly from clients. He said that I'd have to submit it to him through my manager. Unfortunately, I don't have a manager because my agent advised me against getting one.

New York Stage and Film won't read unproduced suicide notes. Instead, they require that you kill yourself at a regional theater first.

La MaMa E.T.C. said they were looking for something more unusual — for example, if, instead of me, the character committing suicide were either one half of Siamese twins or a puppet.

The few theaters willing to read my suicide note had all too familiar reasons for passing: it wasn't dramatic enough; it was too dramatic; it was similar to something they had just produced; it was dissimilar from something they had just produced; they liked everything but the ending; they liked the ending, but nothing before it; they liked the middle, but wished it had come first — or at the end — or both.

I ultimately realized that submitting my suicide note had gotten me nowhere, so I wrote back to all the theaters apologizing for having taken up their valuable time. Lincoln Center was the first to respond. They said they don't accept unsolicited apologies.

Allan Katz is a playwright whose works include the musical "Song of Singapore" and the comedy "Partners." He is also a film and television writer whose credits include "M*A*S*H."
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