I keep a spreadsheet of all of the plays I have written and all the submissions made (of course I do). Looking through it yesterday I realized that my first submission was made ten years ago and on August 31, 2006 I was told that I was one of three finalists, though another script was awarded the reading.
As I noted recently a reading of “The Zoo Story” by Edward Albee inspired me to explore theater as a career. At about age 18 I decided that I could write a script and so tried two. A one act was barely tolerable and a full length musical about teen age angst was terrible (Spring Awakening it definitely was not and my closing number was Mother by John Lennon. I knew nothing about rights and that is a terrible way to close a show.) I’d seen enough theater to know they were awful an put them in a drawer.
Ten years later I tried again with a play based on historical research I had done in West Virginia during a couple of gigs there as an actor. Later it would develop into Coal Creek which has now Bloodletting in These Hills. But the first draft featured a running debate between Mother Jones and John D. Rockefeller Jr. on the periphery of the story. Maybe historically accurate but horrible theater. Into the drawer.
Ten years later I tried again with what is now Daddy Will Be Buried Tonight (but was once The Willow Grove). About the death of a southern sheriff and the family meeting just after. A little better but dry and not up to snuff. Drawer.
Finally, ten years after that, I had the thought to actually include the dead father into that script and try again. I found a local group doing a competition which would offer a staged reading to the winner who’s deadline coincided with my finished draft. They soon informed me that I was one of three finalists, though another script ultimately got the reading. I was hooked.
Ten years later I find myself with 23 plays, 95 awards, readings or productions of those scripts and more in the works. They have been featured in 24 states (and one finalist in the UK). You can check them all out on http://www.walterthinnes.com (plug, plug, plug). In those years I’ve made 465 submissions and more to come. Doing the math, I have about a 20% positive response which is pretty good in this business. Cannot come even close to supporting myself with this hobby, but I love the creative process and won’t stop now. Let’s see what the next ten years brings.
Oddly enough I captured an image of me working on that play ten years ago. Thought you might enjoy it…..