As of yesterday, my play Till Death Do Them Part is officially available for amateur and professional licensing from Big Dog Publishing. Whew! At last! Finally! I’m excited! I’m tired!
It seems like it’s been forever that I’ve been working on this play. Most people I talk to don’t seem to know the timeline from initial idea to publication, so I thought it would be fun to jot one down (or type one up) for this play.
March 2012: I receive word from the school where I direct that they would again like me and my brother, Matt, to work with students to create an original mystery comedy to be performed in the fall of the following school year, under my direction. (This is the third year in a row that students will help my brother and me write an original play.)
April 2012: I meet with all drama students interested in helping to write the play. After an application process whereby students submit playwriting samples and personal statements, Tricia-Rae Parent and Caleb Riggins (two rising juniors) are chosen to complete the four-person playwriting team.
May to early June 2012: I hold bi-weekly after-school writing workshops to quickly prepare the student playwrights for a summer filled with writing.
Late June to early September 2012: As soon as Summer Break begins, I meet with the students weekly for several hours at a time to brainstorm, draft, polish, and proofread a script for production. The four of us playwrights email drafts of the script back and forth to each other throughout the weeks. I assign each playwright a specific task to complete as they write (from “Outline the second scene,” to “Make sure no character uses the word ‘chill’ besides Dragonfly.”) Over the course of two and a half months, we complete approximately 25 drafts of a murder mystery comedy set at a wedding, which we title Til Death Do Them Part.
Mid September 2012: At the start of the new school year, I hold auditions for the play to be performed in November. Both student playwrights are in the show along with 21 other cast members.
Late September to mid November 2012: We rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. I pull out most of my hair. The students have a blast.
Mid November 2012: Til Death Do Them Part premieres. Five months after we first put pen to paper, the four of us playwrights are elated to see the production run successfully.
December 2012: I prepare the manuscript for submission to publishing companies, making minor edits and formatting adjustments to appeal to publishers.
January 2013 to September 2013: Throughout the months, I mail out hard copies of the script to various dramatic publishing companies. I wait. And wait. I’m in contact with several editors from these companies. One company is scared that the science fiction aspect of the play (there’s an alien character) won’t appeal to producers in their market. Another company is not interested in murder mystery scripts at all because many producers in their market won’t touch a play with violence, even if it is a comedy. I wait. And wait. And wait.
Early September 2013: I hear from editor Dawn Remsing at Big Dog Publishing. She is not interested in the play as written because one of the characters is perpetually drunk. Alcohol consumption onstage does not appeal to the producers in her market. She invites me to resubmit the script if I’m willing to edit this aspect of the play. After a quick deliberation with the other three playwrights, we agree that if drastically editing one of the characters will make the play more appealing, we’re all game.
Mid September 2013: I edit the script and re-prepare it for submission to Big Dog Publishing.
Late September 2013: I mail an alcohol-free hard copy version of the script to Big Dog Publishing.
February 2014: Success! Editor Dawn Remsing loves the revised script and thinks it will fare very well in Big Dog Publishing’s market. She mails a contract for the four of us playwrights to sign.
March 2014: We sign the contract and mail it back to Big Dog Publishing. I prepare a digital copy of the script and send it to Big Dog Publishing for easy editing.
July 2014: I receive a proof copy of the script in the mail, look it over, and contact the publisher with a few changes I’d like to see before printing.
August 2014: The play (with the new spelling Till Death Do Them Part) pops up on Big Dog Publishing’s website for amateur and professional licensing. More than two years after beginning the journey that became Till Death Do Them Part, I can finally sit back and enjoy the news that schools and theatres across the world will perform this play for years to come.
…Now to hear back from publishers about my next play…