Critiquing Maribeth

February 22, 2018

Colby, Maribeth's stuffed bear, adds his own critique of her work. 



Editor's Note: Maribeth McCarthy, a playwright, is sharing her journey to publishing with us. If you enjoy this article, check out the first in the series HERE. 





Everything seems so exciting in the beginning, doesn't it? Your play is done, it got (mostly) fantastic reviews and you're absolutely flying high from the total joy of it all. You think, perhaps for the first time, that this is going to be the thing that gets you noticed in the world of professional playwriting. Surely all the happy thoughts people sent your way about your script would mean everyone you encounter is going to love it!


Well, that's just not true.


For everyone who absolutely loved my play, there was someone who thought it was too long, that some characters weren't defined enough, or even that some characters could be cut altogether.


When I started to really, SERIOUSLY think about sending this out to other theatres to possibly produce (and submit to publishers myself), I realized I would have to do the one thing I don't think anyone ever really, truly wants to do:


I would have to listen to criticism.


I would have to accept the fact that my work was not perfect and fix it. I would have to rely on the voices of others, and NOT the voice inside my head, about what could possibly be best for the story I was trying to tell.


Gaaaaah, that's easier to say than to do.


Because the thing is, none of us really want to embrace negativity. We want to bounce among rainbows that were constructed of all the compliments we received. Screw the haters! Those people who didn't like the play or the characters just didn't “get” it. It just didn't “speak to them”. They weren't the “audience the show was intended for.”


Now, before I go on, some of those reactions do have elements of truth to them—you literally can't please everyone; what some people love in a play won't be what someone else does and you can't expect everyone to have the same tastes and passions. But there IS something to be said about listen


ing to your critics.


I heard once it's good to have enemies because they make you work harder. Now, I don’t consider critics enemies (and by critics I mean ANYONE who critiqued my play, not just the employed ones on paper), but it's hard to deny that the thing we love to do most after a subpar or bad review is to prove those opposing opinions wrong, by succeeding despite doubts.


That's exactly what I'm trying to do, both by listening to what could make my play better, and at the same time, trying my hardest to not change what so many people fell in love with. It's a hard line to walk. (Especially in the shoes I like to wear. ;) )


But I think in the end my play will be better for being REALLY examined from the perspective of the audience. I sent out a query on Facebook to see if people would please send me what they loved about the play and what they thought needed to be changed. I got a lot of responses and took those (along with the published ones by area critics) to heart and worked hard to figure out how to fix something that I didn't see as broken in the first place.


And just how is that extremely difficult process going?


Well...I'll tell you next time :)



Maribeth :)