As a new Thursday feature here on our WTF blog, we'll be focusing on the journeys of playwrights as they work to get their shows published and/or on the big screen.
Our first featured playwright is Maribeth McCarthy, whose play, "Sweet Tea and Baby Dreams," premiered through the Women's Theatre Festival's 2017 "Women Are Funny" season.
If you would like a regular blog spot to highlight your own journey as a playwright, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org; we are eager to follow you, too!
And now, enjoy Maribeth!
WTF BLOG #1
Well helloooooo to all you people out there in the dark. (And by dark I mean in the dark, in the daylight, on the beach, hiding from the snow, sitting with a cat, sitting with two cats, a dog, or just your device of choice and I. Basically...hello.)
For those of you who don’t know me and have somehow wandered onto this page because of the awesome people promoting it, hi! I’m Maribeth McCarthy; actress, writer, dreamer of dreams, child at heart and avid supporter of The Women's Theatre Festival since its inception two years ago, among many other things. But for the purpose of this blog I'll just stick with “playwright.”
I was fortunate enough to be able to have two of my works performed by WTF those first two years, and while I would have loved to be a part of the festival again this year, it's a little hard to do so from Pennsylvania, where life has taken me. With that in mind, the woman herself (our very own Ashley Popio) asked me if I would like to stay involved by taking you all along with me as I find my way through the world of getting my works published.
I have had about ten of my scripts produced over the years, and while some of them garnered some very nice royalties, I've never actually gone after having my scripts professionally published. I've certainly thought about it, and have had many wonderful people support the idea. But for one reason or another, it just never happened. Maybe I was afraid that no one outside of my circle would care to present them. Or maybe I was worried about the increase in critiques that would inevitably come from having a larger audience . Or maybe I was just lazy about it, to be honest.
I've always kept myself busy, and I move from one project to the next with crazy abandon. But that also means I can be somewhat terrible about finishing things I start; especially if they appear to be finished. That's the way it usually went—the play is done, I'll mildly entertain looking into publishing it, oh look—a squirrel! It's sad, but true.
Things are different this year, though. The first play I submitted to the festival was “BRUISERS,"
which had actually been performed twice up here in the frozen tundra. I wrote it almost ten years ago (though it's changed a bit every time I come back to it), and it always received very nice reviews. It's a play I very much LIKE, but it's not my “passion play." Maybe that's why I kept thinking I'll come back to it SOMEDAY. I'll look into publishing it SOMEDAY. Whereas this year, with “Sweet Tea and Baby Dreams," I knew as soon as I had my cast assembled that it was something very special.
It's interesting, really—in the beginning getting this play published wasn't even a thought—it was simply something I wrote to submit to the second season of WTF, since I needed a play that fit their “Women Are Funny” theme. But over the past year (Happy Anniversary, “Sweet Tea,” I really did start writing you exactly one year ago!) I grew to fall in love with this script; with the characters, the silliness, the drama, the terrible twins, the families and beliefs represented and even Mama Jubilee (who, if you've not seen the play, can be a bit hard, that one).
Our production in August went well, VERY well because of the incredible people I had involved. For the most part, the audience's reactions were supportive and wonderful. People laughed and cried, often in the same moment (again, this is due to the strength of my performers more than just my writing alone).
I had so many people ask me when it was over if it was going to be available to other theatres. One of the best compliments I received was, “Please tell me this will be performed again somewhere, because I REALLY want to audition for it.” Honestly, as an actress and a playwright, could I ask for a better reaction? (Answer? No. No, I could not.)
And so, here I am...trying to make that happen. I'll be checking in with my progress and what I've learned/been learning throughout this next year, and I hope that whatever I find will help any of you awesome people who may have scripts or ideas as well. After all, we all have stories to tell...here's to more people experiencing them.