DIVOS!

My brother (and often co-writer), Matt Steele, stars in the feature film DIVOS!, available today on iTunes, Amazon, YouTube Movies & Shows, Google Play, FandangoNOW, Xbox, Vudu, and practically any other On Demand service that allows you to rent or buy movies!

DIVOS!

I saw the premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, and this film is absolutely hysterical! Check it out, especially if you love school plays!

Mean Girls meets High School Musical in this hilarious backstage farce!

Ricky Redmond is a legendary teen actor – legendary, at least, in his own mind (and his mother’s, of course). After several show-stopping performances as an underclassman in the St. James School’s musicals, he knows he’s a shoo-in for the lead role his senior year. But when baseball MVP Josh Kelly shows up at auditions, the never humble Ricky finally meets his match.

Mustering up some team spirit, Ricky takes Josh under his wing to teach the rookie actor the ins and outs of being a teenage divo. He soon realizes, though, that Josh’s star quality is more dangerous than he originally anticipated. The claws come out when Josh attempts to sabotage not only Ricky’s performance in the school play, but his entire future as a professional actor.

DIVOS! is a fabulous romp full of misfits, mayhem and musical theatre that proves…

When it comes to the school play, the boys bring the drama!

“Has anyone bought your plays?” and other questions about dramatic publishing

Last week, I found out that my sixth play is going to be published (you can read about it in a previous post) and I received a ton of congratulatory texts and facebook messages from family and friends who are really excited for me…even if the whole concept of what it means for a play to be “published” baffles them.

I mean, we all know that when books are published, they’re printed and sold in bookstores, but plays are designed for performance, not for reading.  And even the most avid theatergoer will likely never deal with licensing a play.  So it’s not surprising that dramatic publishing is unknown territory for most people.

Hopefully, this post will make things a little less confusing.

Whenever someone learns that I have a few plays published, the response is always the same: “That’s cool!  …What exactly does that mean?”

Basically, it means a dramatic publishing company thinks my play will be appealing to producers and directors (much like a book publisher might think a novel manuscript will be appealing to readers) and they’d like to legally represent the play.  And like book publishers, dramatic publishers edit, proofread, format, and coordinate printing.  The major difference between the two is that book publishers market to booksellers (like Barnes & Noble and amazon.com) in hopes of getting copies of their books into stores, while dramatic publishers market to producers and directors in hopes that theatre troupes will want to stage productions.

Another question I get all the time is, “Has anyone bought your plays?”

Well, technically the publisher owns a play once I’ve signed their contract, so you can say that they “bought” it.  (The legalities of copyright ownership can vary depending on the contract, but suffice it to say that the publisher controls the play.)

What I assume people really mean when they ask if anyone has “bought” the play is, “Have there been any productions of your plays?”

Yes, there have been productions of my plays, but I don’t always know about them in advance.  Some of my publishers notify me whenever a new production is happening and some send a yearly invoice that lists all of the productions that have taken place that year.  I like to google the titles of my plays to keep a rough track of productions so that I can list them on my website and here on this blog.

Talking about productions usually leads to the question, “How do you get paid?”

People who have an understanding of book publishing assume I’m paid a one-time fee for the play since book authors receive what’s called an “advance” (meaning they get a flat sum of money from the publisher before any copies are printed, and aren’t paid again until several thousand copies have sold).  An “advance” isn’t common in dramatic publishing, though.  Rather, playwrights receive a percentage of royalties and script sales indefinitely.  So every time a producer says, “Hey, this play looks interesting; I’ll buy a copy of the script and see if I want to mount a production,” I receive a percentage of that script sale.  And every time that producer says, “Wow!  That was great!  I’m going to produce this play,” I receive a percentage of the royalty fee the publisher charges the producer.  This is why it’s important for producers and directors to make sure they’re legally staging a play and have paid all necessary fees.  To stage a production without paying a proper royalty is essentially stealing from both the publisher and the playwright whose income is derived directly from these fees.

I get some other questions periodically, as well…

“Do you have an agent?”

I don’t personally have one.  Dramatic publishers deal directly with playwrights (as opposed to book publishers who prefer to deal with literary agents).  Some playwrights have agents to negotiate contracts for major professional productions, but I write mostly for the school play market and all licensing for these plays is handled by my publishers.

“Can I find your plays in bookstores?”

Probably not.  If you look at the play section of a bookstore it’s usually pretty small and contains only a dozen or so of the most popular plays of all time.  You’ll have an easy time coming across The Crucible but not A Family Reunion to Die For (even if I’m partial to the latter).

“Can I buy a script copy of one of your plays?”

Yes.  Please do.  Remember, how that whole, “How do you get paid?” thing works?  You can get copies directly from the publishers.  (Here’s a listing of my plays with links to the publishers.)

That time I got locked inside Broadway’s Majestic Theatre

Here’s a fun little story I never got around to posting about when it happened back at the end of January…

The Phantom of the Opera was set to celebrate its 27th anniversary on Broadway on January 26, with a big celebration after the show for the cast, crew, and staff, but with the impending Winter Storm Juno, all Broadway performances were canceled for the evening.  Well, the blizzard (which was supposed to be the worst NJ and NYC had ever seen in this lifetime) fooled everyone and dropped only a few inches of snow on the city.  Regardless, Phantom’s anniversary performance had been canceled.

A friend of mine runs the social networking accounts for Phantom, and he needed to photograph the (postponed) anniversary party after the show that Saturday evening.  Since he’d now have to work on a weekend, his company arranged for him to receive two comp tickets to the performance rather than just show up at curtain call.

And that’s how I ended up sitting right under the glorious chandelier that falls onto the stage.

I had seen the show twice before from the nosebleeds of the balcony on high school field trips, but the seats we had for this anniversary performance were center orchestra, and the show is a lot more fun when you can actually see the stage without binoculars.

After the performance, we were ushered backstage where my friend photographed Norm Lewis and the other performers in costume.  Then, everyone got out of costume and makeup, and dozens of pizzas were stacked onto tables stretching across the stage for a big party.  There were speeches and toasts, and I ate a few slices of pizza (or maybe more than a few).  At one point, I was chatting with a girl I thought must be someone’s daughter only to learn that she was the actress who plays Christine during the matinee performances…and then I cried in the corner because I realized I’m older than the star of the show.

Onstage at the Majestic Theatre

Onstage at the Majestic Theatre in front of the infamous chandelier. (No, I didn’t airbrush the photo; that’s how youthful I look under stage lights.)

When the party was over, my friend and I exited the theatre by walking off the stage and through the house while the rest of the partygoers (cast, crew, and staff) exited through the stage door.  We walked from the lobby into the foyer, and realized that the doors leading to the street were dead-bolted shut, as it was now several hours after the performance had  ended.  When we turned around to go back into the theatre, we found that the doors leading to the lobby had locked behind us.

We were trapped in the foyer of the Majestic Theatre.

We waited.  And waited.  And several minutes went by.

I thought surely we must be on camera and some security guard would come find us and set us free.  But we continued to wait.  And wait.  And wait.

Literally, moments before we were about to call the police, a security guard for the theatre came strolling down the sidewalk.  He looked just as surprised to see us trapped in the foyer as we felt to be trapped.

And with a turn of his key, we were set free.

I bought a soft pretzel (I guess the pizza didn’t fill me up) and headed home.

What a fun night.

Happy anniversary, Phantom!