How are emerging playwrights like fish eggs? Well, first of all, we are legion. There are just so many of us! Apparently, our ecosystem needs lots and lots of emerging playwrights because some of us will be eaten by predators, some will be swept away by the tide of life, and others will simply fail to develop. And while each of us secretly knows that we are caviar, the big ocean out there treats us as if we’re all pretty much the same.
This is why we can be “emerging” for decades, or really, forever. You can get sucked in and out by the tide twice a day until the end of time, or your death, which will come first. There is a limit to persistence, even for playwrights.
So how can we grow up to be fish? How do we avoid being food for bad contests (I’m looking at you, $10 submission fees to 10-minute play contests)? How do we stay in the game? We have to find, or create, the right atmosphere for growth, that’s how. For some people that is grad school and for some people that’s New York; for some people that’s as far from New York as they can get; and for some people it means a writer’s group, or gig as a public school drama teacher, or a daily practice that gives them a feeling of satisfaction reliably where the theater world at large cannot.
Here I am, writing plays, hoping to be gathered in a tin and sold as caviar. All those Emerging Playwright opportunities--that’s what they are: tins of caviar. Come eat these new plays on toast! We’ll serve champagne! We’ll speak Russian! We’ll do ANYTHING to get you to PAY ATTENTION to these fish eggs because that’s the currency of this career. Is anyone listening? Did you snag any ears? Found yourself atop a blini? Enjoy. Enjoy it. Because unlike actual fish eggs, this stage can go on a while. A long while. Settle in.
My best advice? Avoid drying out. You can survive much else, but not that. Keep writing. Keep connecting. Keep your sense of humor. Stay hydrated.