Should Playwrights Just Write — or Write for Producers?



Ah, the age-old question: Should a playwright create a work that expresses their worldview, their investigation of a topic, their wrestling with some personal or global question, or should they think slavishly, whorishly about what a producer wants to produce? What if these are incompatible ideas? Why shouldn’t producers get off their greed-hungry bippies and take a chance on quality, rather than hide behind what they think is commercial? Well, however you sit on this particular topic, this event, sent to me courtesy of Michelle Brandon Tabnick, should hopefully address some of those questions, even if they remain, as ever, not fully resolved.

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The Drama Center and TRU
Present a Half-Day Intensive for Writers

Practical Playwriting: How to Write for Commercial Production
Saturday, July 25 from 1-6pm
The Players Theatre, 115 MacDougal Street, Studio 2D

In accord with its mission of helping producers produce, Theater Resources Unlimited (TRU) presents a new, unique seminar that connects playwrights to the real world of commercial theater. Practical Playwriting: How to Write for Commercial Production will be held Sat., July 25, 1-6pm, at the Players Theatre, 115 MacDougal St., NYC.

TRU has engaged Diana Amsterdam of The Drama Centre in a new position as Program Director for Playwrights and this workshop is her brainchild. “What often holds playwrights back are that they rarely consider the person who will buy and produce their product: the producer. With all the work, hope and sweat they invest in considering character, theme and plot, playwrights rarely take into account produce-ability,” said Ms. Amsterdam. (For more information, visit

Segments of the workshop will be taught by Ms. Amsterdam; by presentation coach Grace Kiley, who will help writers capture the essence of their piece in an effective synopsis and learn how to present themselves successfully; and a panel of commercial producers and marketing experts will analyze the potential markets for participants’ projects.

Topics covered will include:

What is Produce-ability?
The fact that producers always ask this question, and playwrights hardly ever do, causes a serious disconnect between the commercial producer and most playwrights.

Writing to a Market
This intensive will raise questions that playwrights may have never before considered: Who is your market? Who is going to buy tickets? Who is this play written for?

Writing Viably
This segment will focus on creating writing that holds the attention of the audience with a strong storyline and defined events.This module will cover such primary writing elements as: arc, desire, motivation, conflict, and the clear delineation of theme.

Writing Economically
Number of characters, number of sets, extravagance of sets: all these are serious considerations for most commercial producers. Does the play require a casting director, or can it be done successfully by seasoned unknowns? Is there a chorus of 30 that can be pared down to two? Are you kidding yourself when you think one actor can play eight parts?

The Curriculum (subject to change)
1:00-1:15 Introduction
1:15-2:15 How to Write a Play that a Producer Can Love (taught by Diana Amsterdam)
2:15-3:15 Getting to the Essence: A Good Synopsis and How to Pitch It (taught by Grace Kiley)
3:15-3:30 Break
3:30-4:30 Identifying Your Market — an interactive “pitch” session with feedback from commercial producers (to be announced)
4:30-5:30 Cost and other Commercial Considerations (taught by Diana Amsterdam)
5:30-6:00 Open discussion and Q&A

The workshop fee is $175. Payment by check may be mailed to Theater Resources Unlimited, 309 W. 104th St. 1D, NYC, NY 10025. Online payment by Paypal or credit card is available at

For more information about TRU membership, visit or call 212-714-7628.