Daily Dojo

It’s Hard Out Here For a Playwright . . . To Find An Agent . . . Even When You Got An Emmy

It’s tough to get an agent as a playwright starting out . . . actually, it’s tough to get an agent even when you’re fairly established.

But I never would guess that, if someone won an Emmy for writing CHEERS, that someone would have any trouble getting a theatre agent to rep him.

Neither did Ken Levine . . . but he has and, as of yet, still doesn’t, as he shares here in Even I don’t have an agent on his blog.

Now for the record, Ken told me this story when we met last week . . . I happen know the agent he’s talking about, though not well.

I’ve also read Ken’s play (and attended the reading) and can vouch for its worth and value (and let me tell ya, people were screaming with laughter and applause during the reading, that’s how funny it was).

When Ken began telling me who he met with, the minute he mentioned her name I knew it was going to end badly.

It simply underlines how difficult the business of being a playwright has become these days, when a guy with an Emmy, who was head writer of MASH at age 26, who’s got a feature film under his belt (starring Tom Hanks) and writtten or directed for CHEERS, FRASER, THE SIMPSONS, WINGS, EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, BECKER and ALMOST PERFECT and has written a play, UPFRONTS AND PERSONAL, that everyone agrees is good and funny, and even HE hasn’t gotten an agent for it, and not only did he not get an agent, he was told to just “keep writing” by an agent at a small house, which is an incredible condscending thing to say to a man who’d done what Ken’s done.

He was told this by an agent who liked his play and loved his work but still didn’t want to rep him.

Wow. Major story.

But hardly new. I know many a fine playwright who doesn’t have representation. Some with some great credits, too. With great plays and no one to send them out.

This is but another reason why theatre loses so many playwrights to film, television and comic books (well, that and the money, it used to be said that only five playwrights make any money off of theatre and four of them are named Neil Simon) which is too bad.

Because there are some great playwrights out there, looking for their audience. And an audience looking for that work that speaks to them.

Instead, we get pablum like LEGALLY BLONDE, THE MUSICAL.

You know, it used to be that the play was the thing.

It’s not anymore. I don’t know what the thing is.

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