The Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights is an excellent resource for playwrights in Los Angeles. Don’t believe me? Read for yourself in this interview with the organizations co-chairs, Jonathan Dorf and Dan Berkowitz.
What is the Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights? It is the service and support organization for playwrights in the greater Los Angeles area. We are not a producing organization, but rather an advocacy organization that provides playwrights with a variety of resources to advance their craft and careers. It’s not a requirement that playwrights live in the Los Angeles area, and, in fact, our more than 250 members live in nearly a dozen states and even Canada. Our many online services make ALAP membership valuable, even if you don’t live close enough to attend our physical events.
Your organization was incorporated in 1992. How have the needs of playwrights changed since then? Back in 1992, playwrights wrote plays, agents represented them, and theatres and producers produced them; with rare exceptions, if a playwright produced his or her own work, it was looked down upon as “vanity production.” Since then, however, the economics of the theatre have changed drastically, and playwrights need to be much more responsible for not only the “art” but the “commerce” of playwriting as well. Targeted marketing and promotion, and self-production are more and more recognized as critical ways of getting your work before the public, but these require an entirely different set of skills.
What are some of the services that you provide and how can they be accessed? ALAP holds a variety of events throughout the year. These have included panels and workshops on the business and craft of playwriting, Director-Dramatist Exchanges, and monologue and scene slams. Regular annual events include In Our Own Voices, in which playwrights take part in readings of their own work, and the Annual Playreading Festival, featuring 10-minute play readings of member work. The New Works Lab allows for table readings of member work in conjunction with Los Angeles area theatre companies. We also hold a number of social events, ranging from our monthly Salo(o)n to cocktail parties to a summer picnic. Our social events are open to the public, as are most of our panels; some participatory programs, such as In Our Own Voices, are open to members only. But many of our members join because of our online services. Members get access to our actor and director databases and the Resource Guide to LA Theatres, and they can promote their plays and careers through the Script Catalogue, Meet Our Members and our email list. The members-only email list that provides submission opportunities and discounted tickets.
One of the cool things about your website is the script catalogue that you just mentioned. How does it work? We agree. The script catalogue is indeed cool. In fact, it’s super cool. If you’re a member, you can list as many plays as you’d like, and include information on cast size (including gender breakdown), genre and running time, as well as a synopsis, script excerpt and even a production photo. A prospective producer can search the script catalogue in a variety of ways, and our authors have had inquiries from all over the world.
What is Drama Lama Ding Dong? We’ve been doing a daylong Big Fall Event for quite a while, and Drama Lama Ding Dong is this year’s version. The event always includes a number of programs, such as panel discussions and workshops, sometimes a Scene Slam or Monologue Slam, often an exchange such as this year’s with playwrights, producers, and directors; we end the day with the Annual Play Reading Festival, in which short plays chosen by a panel of judges receive rehearsed readings before an audience.
As for the name… several years ago, one of our Vice Chairs suggested we give that year’s event a fun name, so we called it Dramapalooza! Since then, we’ve tried to come up with a funny name each year. So far we’ve done Dramageddon, Dramapocalypto, Drama-Kaze, Drama Mia (Here We Go Again My My How Can You Resist It?), and now – ta da! – Drama Lama Ding Dong! What next?!?
During the event you will have a couple of panels with various artists. One of them is called “Bridging The Generation Gap” where you will have young and seasoned playwrights discuss where playwriting has been and what its future looks like. What do you hope to get out of this discussion? One of the great things about panel discussions is that they often take interesting, unexpected turns. We’ve got a diverse mixture of up and comers and veterans, which should add up to an entertaining conversation, but also an enlightening one. If you’re a young playwright—and I think this is a “don’t miss” event for playwrights in undergraduate and graduate programs, or just starting out—it’s an opportunity to hear some “been there, done that” stories that may save you aggravation or give you new avenues to explore in your writing. But at the same time, our young playwrights will bring new insights and paradigms for our veterans to consider. Being a playwright is a combination of craft and business, and our hope is that we can blend the best insights of both generations as we continue to move forward into the future of our profession.
How can playwrights and theatre artists get involved in your organization? The quick answer is send us a check! The longer answer is bring a check to one of our events and check us out in person. We’re a volunteer organization, so we’re always looking for people who want to pitch in, and pitching in is the best way to get to know people in a group – and that’s the real key. For while we think our programs are terrific and educational and entertaining… and while our website is one of the most incredible resources for a playwright who wants to promote his or her work to a global audience… the best part of being a member of ALAP is that membership makes one part of the playwriting community in Southern California, which not only gives you the opportunity to meet and network with people who do what you do, but also gives ALL of us playwrights a greater voice in assuring that our rights are preserved and kept strong and inviolable.
Drama Lama Ding Dong is on Saturday, October 15, 2011 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm at Plummer Park Community Center 7377 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood. Parking Lots off Santa Monica (3-hr limit) and Fountain, or street parking. The event is FREE and open to the public.
For more information about the Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights please visit their website: http://laplaywrights.org/currentnewsflash.html