Sending Stuff Out

In the days when I was tutor to a Writers' Group, I was forever going on at the members about sending out their work. They would invariably have poems, stories and articles, languishing in drawers and folders. "Send it off" I would say. "You can't hope to win the lottery if you don't buy a ticket" - and similar terms of encouragement.
Now, some years later, here I sit with drawers full of the stuff, and although certain manuscripts are, in fact, "out there" with my agent, so much of it is languishing still.
Perhaps most frustrating among the "languishees"though, is a full length stage play called The Locker Room. So much of what sits in drawers is there because you know, deep in your heart, that it is garbage. The Locker Room is different. I think that the Locker Room is a good play. I first drafted it out some years ago, but have done many rewrites and revisions since then, pushing the dialogue as far as I could, experimenting with it, paring it and pruning it until it reflected exactly what I wanted to say. It is a hard hitting play, not a bundle of laughs for sure, in that it tackles the thorny subject of abuse in sports coaching within the ever-so-masculine sport of ice hockey.
For the past ten years - as well as writing novels - I have written drama for radio and for the stage. My play Wormwood, about the Chernobyl disaster, was lovingly nurtured by the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh and produced to excellent reviews. The play was published in an anthology called "Scotland Plays" and is now a set text for the Scottish "Higher Still" drama exam. A further play for the Traverse, Quartz, about themes of magic and religion, was also beautifully produced and well reviewed. Then I sent them The Locker Room, but they didn't like it. Actually, that's not strictly true. One of their readers loved it. That's what the artistic director told me on the phone. But for various reasons which I won't go into here, he himself didn't really want to do it. And no, he didn't think it needed workshopping, because it didn't need rewriting. There was nothing wrong with it as a play. He just didn't like what I was saying and the angle I was taking.
Fair enough. There's no reason why he should. These things are very personal and we simply agreed to differ.
Since then, though, I have sent the play to every theatre in Scotland that I can think of that accepts new writing. Sometimes I have emailed beforehand to ask about submissions and have received encouraging noises. I know I'm the woman with the funny foreign name - but it should be a reasonably familiar foreign name in Scottish theatre. After my new short play The Price of a Fish Supper was produced in Glasgow last spring, I wondered if I should try to do something with the Locker Room - again. And the result? As before, as always, complete, utter, dead silence. I don't mean that the play was turned down. The only theatre to have turned it down was the Traverse. I mean nothing, zilch, nada. Not an email, not a phonecall, not an acknowledgement, nothing. The script has just disappeared into this great, silent, black hole.
Actually, I suspect I know all too well what the problem is. In theatre, you have to polish your profile. You have to go to events, and opening nights and previews and workshops. You have to sit in the bar and be seen. You have to chat to people and remind them of your very existence. You have to be part of the "in-crowd". And, woe is me, I live in deepest rural Scotland, and spend most of my week struggling to earn a living, which kind of limits my networking possibilities.
But it gnaws away at me, it really does.
Increasingly now, I think that more time in Glasgow, which I love, is probably the answer. I have to be bold and elbow my way in, somehow. I'm working on it.
Meanwhile, if anyone out there is interested in a full length well polished and "provocative" (buzz word) play with believable characters, written in a taut, almost poetic, but ultimately realistic style.... well, just let me know, would you?

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