The experience of being a post graduate playwright is everything that I was told it was going to be. It is lonely, confusing, and at times maddening. A grad of the same program I went to said, they basically shove you out the door and you're on your own. (This is not quite true. My profs, especially Kate, Melinda, and Sid have been great in giving help, references, and advice.) And as much as I've heard it and as much as it makes so much sense to me that the only real way you're going to get your plays produced is by a) networking like mad and make relationships with artistic directors; and/or b) produce them yourselves, you still find yourselves sending out scripts cold to theaters that advertise they are looking for scripts. This is the maddening part that I was talking about.
In my short time of sending out plays, I think I've experienced pretty much of that list, except for the rejection letters with my name misspelled. Though I just did get an email from a theater where I had sent a script with a subject line that said, Congratulations! My heart jumped. But the email was a list of the winners of the fellowships, and my name wasn't on it. The congratulations were for the winners, not me, and it was kind of a numbing experience. I'm still not sure how I feel about that particular theater that seems so unaware of simple digital communications. It kind of felt like a mean joke.
But I have spent hours reformatting plays to send to theaters or programs (a table of contents in a script?...really??) and wrote special info pages, character breakdowns on separate pages, synopses in two or three sentences (that's a real pain in the ass,) copied three copies stapled and not stapled. Make no mistake, all that is real.
But, I'm well aware that theaters all have their way of doing things, just like every other person on this planet. (Wait, did I just call theaters, people?) If, for some reason, it helps to have a separate page with the characters' ages, sex, and description, well, I'm fine with that. And if they don't want digital submissions because they don't have the budget to print all those scripts, well, that makes perfect sense, too.
The writer's life is never easy. I've been doing this gig for my entire adult life, and there are parts of it that are maddening. Sheer misery. And I'll tell you another thing: Writers have been complaining about this stuff forever. I think all you can do, just like anything in this world, is just change what you can in your own life. I know when I'm working with my students, I treat them like writers from day one. In other words, I treat them with the respect that I, as a writer, feel I deserve. I can see how that affects them.