FIRST. Everyone in Edmonton: go see Let the Light of Day Through at Theatre Network. The best play to have been done here in ages. I mean it. GO!
I got another rejection letter. Yeah. It was a theatre in New York City, which wasn’t adverse to seeing scripts which had been produced before (many are), so I sent them Take a Bite. This week, I got the polite no-thank-you letter.
And I admit to feeling side-swiped. Even though we tried previously to get a tour going of the show from 2011, even though I’ve tried submitting proposals to other theatres to re-mount it, and not succeeded. I don’t quite know why I’m so surprised, so disappointed.
One of the hazards for a writer in the beginning is self-doubt. “Maybe I’m just not that good. Maybe I really don’t have anything interesting to say…”
That’s where I was, until I went to Scotland, and I re-wrote, from memory, a play I had put in my proverbial bottom drawer, and thought I had burned onto a disc, but hadn’t. A play that I thought, on finishing it, was pretty amazing. It had a workshop in Edinburgh, and everyone loved it…but no one would look at doing it. Once again, like had happened to so many of my plays before, I could feel my own enthusiasm for it draining away. I thought “NOT this one!”, and produced Take a Bite myself at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August, 2007. In a sea of 1,500 shows, when you get good word of mouth, and reviews from The Stage like this, and you start selling out in your final week, and you KNOW three jury members for a major award have come to your show…you might start to think your show is good. (I still beat myself up about that last one…we didn’t win, in the end, and part of me wishes I hadn’t found out about the jury coming…and part of me is glad because I know that play is that good…!)
When I came back to Canada, Take a Bite wouldn’t leave me alone. So after sending it out hither and yon, and getting nowhere, I produced it again in its Calgary and Edmonton Fringe incarnation, in 2011. Read the reviews. The audience were blown away. And it was nominated by the critics in Calgary for best new play–not Fringe play– with Lunchbox Theatre<, One Yellow Rabbit (!), and Karen Hines, whose play was done at ATP.
So now my problem is that I KNOW I can write. I know this play is good. So why do I continue to get rejected.
Seeing Let the Light of Day Through made me think “I wish I’d written that.” It’s the kind of play which anyone would read, and say “I can’t live without seeing this.” It’s very easy to see why a director would read that script and move the earth to do it. Any theatregoer who read it would clamour to see it onstage. It is so much better than good. It may sound weird to anyone who knows Take a Bite that I would compare it with this play; I’m not exactly comparing. It’s just reminded me that I haven’t written anything that good yet. The only way I ever might, is to keep writing.