Sometimes when you risk a lot with a piece of art, it pays to find ways to risk even more. Or at least that’s the counter-intuition behind the newest wrinkle in the Custom Made Play Project. A couple days ago a box arrived at my house containing exactly fifty copies of my soon-to-world-premiere play Ballard House Duet. Given the unique circumstances of its development (which I blog about in some detail here), the idea light-bulbed to offer a published version of the play simultaneously with its world premiere production. After all, we custom made this play for two local actors, Hana Lass and Rebecca Olson: a Seattle story for Seattle audiences in the purest vein of locally and organically grown new theatre. What better way to underscore how we are trying to change the way plays are made than to offer tangible printed proof of the pudding for sale.
So I emailed my friend and colleague Jason Aaron Goldberg, president of Original Works Publishing in Los Angeles. OWP publishes acting edition scripts and licenses productions of plays by “bold, original, and adventurous playwrights from around the globe.” I currently have three plays in their catalogue: An American Book of the Dead* – The Game Show†, The Sequence, and The Good Ship Manhattan. Other Seattle playwrights have plays with OWP as well. For example, Elizabeth Heffron’s Mitzi’s Abortion received some strong productions around the country after OWP’s decision to publish it.
I think it is fair to say that Jason was less than enthused by my idea. He told me OWP had looked at simultaneous publishing before, but never pulled the trigger. They prefer for a play to have a production history in advance of publishing it. This only makes sense. Productions work the kinks and flaws out of a play, not to mention garner reviews from which you can pull quotes for the script's back cover. I, however, pressed my proposal. I agreed to absorb the financial risk of printing the scripts if OWP was willing to risk a bit of its institutional reputation on the experiment. Jason graciously agreed.
So now you get to vote on whether this experiment succeeds or fails. I have 45 scripts to sell, each individually numbered and personally signed by me. I have priced them nearly a buck cheaper than what OWP sells my scripts for on their website. If we do another publishing run of Ballard House Duet, they won’t be sold by me, won’t be signed by me, and won’t be part of a limited numbered edition: so why not buy one now while it’s cheap and special?
Here are the ways you can buy, in descending order from best to next next best:
Go buy your tix to the show now (click here), then buy a script at the door. (While supplies last.)
Ping me with a way to send you my snail mail address. Once I do, send me a check for $10, and I’ll send you back a script. (I’ll eat the postage on this option.)
Buy a script on Ebay by clicking here, for $10 plus postage. (This option allows PayPal.)
Vote now: the simultaneous publication experiment: success or failure?