New play published

At some point in 2017, I started writing a new fractured fairytale play centered on a friendship between Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. A few pages in, I got busy with other things, and the draft sat on my hard drive for the next few years. It was one of those projects I kept telling myself I’d get to when I had more time.

The COVID-19 pandemic gave me that time! One afternoon, trapped in my Brooklyn condo and bored with YouTube, I opened the virtually-dusty folder on my computer titled Prince of My Dreams.

A few days later, I finished work I’d been putting off for more than three years! And I think it’s a pretty cute story if I do say so myself.

Prince of My Dreams is now under contract with Twisted Plays. They plan to have the play available for licensing on September 1! Twisted Plays is a relatively new publisher on the scene, and I’m excited to work with them!

Prince of My Dreams

It looks like most schools and community theaters will remain closed for the foreseeable future, but if any teachers would like to schedule a virtual reading of Prince of My Dreams, feel free to reach out to me or the publisher, and we can coordinate something!

Prince of My Dreams

3 Men, 3 Women

Snow White and Sleeping Beauty – they’re the princesses you’ve heard about who fall asleep and then wait around for princes to come wake them up. …Or do they? Mouthy (one of the seven dwarfs) and Fee (a fairy) are ready to tell the part of the story you’ve never heard before. The princesses actually meet in their dreams and open a successful business. Pies & Suds is Dreamland’s very first bakery-dry-cleaning establishment, and the princesses are proud to service humans and animals across the land. That is until Mayor Rutherford enforces her strict no-animals-in-eating-establishments policy. Prince Charming and Prince Clumsy’s family has ruled the land for generations, though, and the brothers assure the princesses that the evil mayor has no real authority. But when Mayor Rutherford enacts a plan to steal control of Dreamland, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty must go on a quest to ensure that everything turns out happily ever after. Can the princesses defeat Mayor Rutherford and an invisible guard dragon named Mimsy? The mission may seem impossible, but anything can happen with the magic of fairytales!

Showtime shoutout

Playhouse 38 in Geneva, IL, will perform my play, Offed at the Bake-Off, as their third annual murder mystery production. Performances run October 20 to 23. Break a leg to everyone involved!

Offed at the Bake-Off - Playhouse 38

Offed at the Bake-Off – Playhouse 38

Showtime shoutout

CNY Arts Center in Fulton, NY, will perform my play, I Wish… this weekend! Break a leg to everyone involved in the production!

I Wish...

I Wish… is ready!

I got a late Christmas present from Pioneer Drama Service yesterday afternoon when I opened my front door to see a package of scripts for my new play, I Wish…, sitting on the porch. I guess this means it’s officially available for licensing! This is my first foray into writing theater for young audiences, and it was a lot of fun to write! I can’t wait to see photos of productions start popping up on the internet!

I Wish... script

I Wish… script

You can read a sample of the script right here on my blog by clicking on the Script Previews tab.

Synopsis: You’ve heard the story of Cinderella, but did you know that her sassy Godmother also has a tale to tell? When a hardworking fairy named Carol stops by her goddaughter’s cottage to borrow a cup of flour, a simple visit quickly turns into a complicated evening of chaos. Carol’s plans to bake a batch of brownies are set into a tailspin when a bunch of silly strangers (including a door-to-door salesman, a repairwoman, a pizza delivery boy, and more) show up, hoping to have their wishes granted by the Fairy Godmother. Making a wish come true should be easy with magic on her side, but an accidental encounter with a fire-breathing dragon renders Carol’s wand useless. To top it off, a bunch of mischievous mice are on the loose. Will we ever make it to happily ever after?  And will the brownie batter ever find its way into the oven? Audiences and performers will have a ball with this delightful fairy’s tale.

Cast: 5M, 4F, 3 that can be either. Interior living room set. Forty-five minutes.

“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.)

I’m getting published! (Well, my play is.)

In case this post’s title wasn’t a clue, my latest play has received a publishing contract!

Wahoo!

Yeah!

Jump up and down!

This one is extra special to me because it’s the first play I’ve written solo.  All of my other plays were collaborations with my brother, Matt, (and sometimes a few of my students).  I had an idea for a fairytale spinning in my head for awhile and figured I’d flesh it out.  So I did.  (And I mentioned it in a previous post.)

The play is called I Wish, and it’s a story for young audiences centered around Cinderella’s godmother – a sassy gal named Carol.  It’s a fairy’s fairytale, if you will.  I set the play on the evening of the royal ball.  Cinderella wants to attend, of course, but needs to finish cleaning her cottage or her stepmother will not be happy.  Carol offers to get the job done…and hilarious hijinks ensue.  Apparently, Cinderella wasn’t the only one to have an adventure that night.  (And spoiler alert: she wasn’t the only one to have a romance, either.)

Publishing offer

Publishing offer

I finished writing the play about two months ago and sent it off to the submissions editor at Pioneer Drama Service (publisher of my plays A Family Reunion to Die For and Murderous Night at the Museum).  I received an offer and a contract in the mail, yesterday.

I’m really happy to have this play in the hands of Pioneer, because they do a great job marketing their shows.

I Wish will be available for amateur and professional licensing within the next few months.  Tell all the children’s theatre directors you know.  Or buy a copy.  Or two.

Where have I been?

Except for a bunch of showtime shoutouts to schools and theatre troupes performing my plays, I haven’t posted any content on this blog in…  a long time…  too long.

So where have I been the past few months?

WRITING!

Late last year I began writing my first one-act play – a modern day fairy tale (which also happens to be my first play specifically for young audiences).  After a promising start one afternoon, I got sidetracked.  Why?  Well, I had to catch the train into NYC because I had tickets that evening to the Broadway revival of Pippin.  I saved my writing file, and got lost in the magic to do (bad joke, I know) of one of the best Broadway shows I’ve seen in years.  I had good intentions of working on the play some more when I got home that night, but I never got around to it.  In fact, I never got around to it for awhile.

I really did have good intentions of finishing the play before the new year, but the holidays came quickly, and I got busy shopping and eating.  Then my brother came home for Christmas, and late one night (we tend to do our best brainstorming in the middle of the night), we came up with an idea for a new play – a full-length and rather vulgar comedy.

Oh, no!  Two plays spinning in my head at once!

Well, my brother and I discussed submitting the full-length play to some Fringe festivals around the world, and with deadlines beginning in mid-February, we got to work on that play right after the new year.  He flew back to the West Coast, and we wrote the play over the course of a month and a half by sending drafts of the play back and forth to each other via email, and arguing a lot through text message, as we always do.  We finished just in time to start submitting to Fringe festivals.  Fingers crossed, we’ll have a production mounted soon.  Oh, and in case you were wondering, the play is about poop.  Yes, poop.

After finishing the full-length play, my writer-brain was on a roll, and I decided to plow through the one-act I had begun writing several months before.  And I did.  And it’s finished.  And now it’s time to figure out what to do with that script.

A little snippet of the one-act fairytale I recently finished.

A little snippet of the one-act fairytale I recently finished.

And it’s time to decide what my next project will be before I get lazy again.

Tons of scripts

Offed at the Bake-Off is officially in print!

Me with a copy of Offed at the Bake-Off

Me with a copy of Offed at the Bake-Off

Eldridge Publishing sent me several complimentary copies of the script to share with my co-writer (and brother), Matt.  Along with the scripts, they sent a few posters featuring the full color logo they designed for the play.  I have to admit, when I receive copies of my plays, I don’t look at them for…  Well, for a long time.  By the time I receive the actual published scripts, I’ve spent so much time writing, editing, proofreading, submitting to publishers, and then working with the editors to finalize the scripts that I’m tired of looking at my own plays.  I just want to let these scripts be for a bit.  I’ll open them and take a peek inside in six months.  Maybe.

Offed at the Bake-Off scripts and posters

Offed at the Bake-Off scripts and posters

Check out Offed at the Bake-Off

It’s here!  It’s here!  My play, Offed at the Bake-Off, is available for amateur and professional licensing from Eldridge Publishing.

Offed at the Bake-Off Logo

Offed at the Bake-Off Logo

Everything seems like it’s happening so quickly with the publishing process for this play.  I submitted the play to the publisher only 62 days before the play was officially available.  Eldridge Publishing was very eager to make this play available for the fall, and they somehow managed to do it.

There are two major differences between the draft I submitted and the published version:

1) The title now contains a hyphen.  What was once Offed at the Bake Off is now Offed at the Bake-Off.  It’s a minor difference, but I’ve spent the evening updating the title on all of my social networks.  (In addition to this blog, find me on facebook at facebook.com/mikesteeleplaywright and on twitter at @msteelewrites.)

2) The original version contained extra characters and the published version does not.  The editor, Natalie, was confident that removing the extras would make this play more marketable.  With a cast of 18 characters, she felt that the need for additional extras would limit the schools and theatres that would be capable of producing such a large cast show.  I’m sad to see the extra characters (a group of bratty students) disappear, but they still remain integral to the plot as they are all the (now offstage) victims in this murder mystery comedy.

Now that all the writing, editing, and proofreading is complete, I wonder where the premiere production will take place…