You’ve written a play and you’d really like another set of eyes on it to make sure it’s working as intended. But while beta readers for fiction works, such as novels and short stories, are fairly easy to come by, most writing forums and critique sites aren’t geared towards playwrights. And if you’ve ever tried to get feedback on a script from someone who has no theatre or stage experience, you know that makes a big difference in how valuable the feedback you get is.
(A non-playwright writer friend once read a play of mine and told me I should take out the character name before every line of dialog because it was too distracting to have to look at it. Yeah. Not the most helpful feedback.)
So where DO you find other playwrights to read your play, particularly if you don’t already have those connections? Two fantastic options for finding readers are the feedback trading opportunities run by Donna Hoke: Trade a Play Tuesday (#TAPT) & Playwrights Offering Free Feedback (#POFF). Both are completely free to participate in where the only cost is taking the time to read and comment on someone else’s play in return.
Which one is right for you?
- Trade a Play Tuesday (#TAPT) runs every Tuesday (and has been since January 2014!) and lets you to trade a short play with another playwright. You read and comment on their play, they read and comment on yours. It’s only for plays (or scenes from a longer play) that are 10 pages or less and participants have to get their feedback to their partner before the end of the day (ideally within three hours of getting the play). It’s a fast turnaround option for 10 minute plays or if you just want a perspective on excerpt from something longer. For more information on how to participate, see Donna Hoke’s post here.
- Playwrights Offering Free Feedback (#POFF) is a brand new, continuous program where playwrights can get feedback on a full length play from 60-180 pages in exchange for credits they earn for reading and critiquing the plays of others. In other words, you read someone else’s play, earn credits, and then cash in those credits to get feedback on your own play. (You can also earn credits towards this program by participating in TAPT.) This option isn’t limited to any specific day of the week or length of play so it gives you more flexibility. For more information on how to participate, see Donna Hoke’s post here.
The one thing you’ll notice is that there’s no option available above for plays 11-59 pages. That’s because, outside of the TYA and school markets where competition friendly plays in that range are in high demand, longer one-acts like that aren’t as popular in the professional sphere so there’s less demand for readers there. That said, maybe if enough people express interest in a feedback option for longer one-acts, one will be available in the future.
I have personally participated in TAPT many times and have been pleased with the feedback I’ve gotten from my fellow playwrights. Having a chance to read the work in progress of others is also really helpful not only in spotting issues in your own work and bettering your craft, but also to get a feel for what other kinds of plays are out there. If you’re looking to get someone else’s perspective on your script, there’s no easier way!
Donna Hoke runs and moderates both of these programs for free out of the goodness of her heart because she is awesome so, if you do decide to participate, please be respectful, kind and make sure you thank her for all her hard work at providing these great services. The same goes for your fellow playwrights. Give your trading partner the kind of feedback you’d want to get and their play the level of attention you’d hope they’d give yours.
So head on over and start trading those plays!
(I know that no one actually calls them “stage play scripts.” I was going for the SEO keywords. Don’t hate the playa, hate the game.)