Tips: My play is ready, now what?

Pamela McQueen

1. Be sure the funding you’re applying for is right for you.

Have a clear sense of who you are as a maker/writer. Consider what stage you are at in your career: emerging or established?

When you’re considering a fund to apply for, take a step back and think about how it will benefit you at this point in your career or at this point in your play’s development. If it’s a once-off funding award, make sure it hits at the right moment in your career.

Awards usually have a list of people who’ve received them previously on their sites. Look at who these people are and what stage their career was at when they received funding. This will help you to decide if you should apply for a particular fund.

2. Local arts office funding has restricted applications

The competitive level is reduced for local arts office funds as they’re not open on a national level. Your odds of achieving local arts office funding increases compared to national awards.

Some local arts offices are better than others at providing funding so consider applying to the local arts office in your home county/region if it’s different to where you currently live.

3. There’s an understanding that venues will support artists.

Go and have a relationship with venues as an individual. It will improve your chances of connecting for playwriting support in the long-run.

4. Ask for more information.

If there aren’t detailed guidelines or FAQs accompanying a funding opportunity, send in questions before you apply. Anything that’s an open call expects to have interaction with the public, so dig deeper to give your application a stronger chance of success.

5. You may need multiple funders to get your new play staged.

If you’re looking at a new play poster, you’ll generally see several logos attached because that many organisations have funded it. That’s the kind of risk-deleveraging that’s often needed for new plays.

6. Consider UK playwriting competitions & awards.

Most of the UK awards are also open to Irish applicants; this still is the case post-Brexit, however check their FAQs.

7. Have a relationship with The Arts Council of Ireland

Subscribe to their monthly newsletter. Attend live clinics and meet the theatre team.

8. Always request feedback.

Always request feedback from both successful and unsuccessful Arts Council funding applications. This feedback informs your ongoing relationship with them.

9. Define your role in the casting process ahead of time.

Now that you have your funding and your play is being staged, ask yourself:

● What will your input into the casting process be?
● Will you be in the room with the director?
● Will you supply potential creative team names for consideration as part of the selection process?

Your agent (if you have one) will negotiate a lot of this, but if not, it’s up to you. Define what you want, and talk to the producer at the earliest stage regarding this.

10. Define your role in the rehearsal room ahead of time.

Before you get near the rehearsal room, define whether you’re open to edits during rehearsals or whether the script is locked off. You will have to facilitate technical changes e.g., a costume quick change, which is reasonable, but are you open to bigger changes like character discovery? That’s a conversation that needs to be had with the director before getting into the rehearsal room.

Define how long you’re required to join rehearsals for. Is it the whole first week? Are you required to be back for the first whole run-through? Crucially, define what the communication lines are for you into the rehearsal room. Will you receive the daily rehearsal report from the stage manager? Will you receive the annotated changes?

Some writers want to be there every day. Others don’t want to be there for the first weeks of rehearsal because it can seem like your text is being torn apart while the director and team figure things out. This is natural.

Other questions to consider ahead of time include: Who has final say on including any improvisation? Will you be the scribe in the room taking down new dialogue? Will you be doing the overnight edit of that? That’s a lot of work so be very clear on whether you are doing that. You should be paid for all of this work which is above and beyond any commissioning/royalty agreements.