Don Fried — Playwright & Author

I’m a gay, black, Hispanic, female, Armenian …

Posted on: February 19, 2009


You may be surprised to learn this, especially those of you who know me personally, but in actuality I’m a sixteen year old, black, gay, female Hispanic, of Armenian ancestry.

This week, anyway. Next week, it’s entirely possible I’ll be something else.

Let me explain.

Every week or so, I look at several playwrights’ newsletters.  They all have listings of contests, asking for submissions of unproduced plays, and I pay a lot of attention to those listings.  As I’ve mentioned before on my blog, sending unrequested scripts to theaters is not a particularly productive way for a relatively unknown playwright to spend his time.  So these sorts of contests are a key element in the playwright’s tool kit.

The problem, though, is that an extremely high percentage of the listings are very restrictive in terms of who the playwright must be and what is to be submitted.  To one degree or another, many of them specify age, sex, sexual orientation, race, place of residence and ethnic background.  That’s not to mention the length of the play; its subject matter; the number, age and sex of the characters; the size of the stage required; the complexity of the set …. You get the idea.  And many of the contests aren’t content with only one of those requirements.  They bundle them together.

“The Black Kitten Theater is looking for 4 minute plays by female elementary school students living in upper-central Wyoming.  The plays must be about the experience of 19th Century Lutheran immigrants in Iowa.  Minimum of 12 characters.”  That’s only a slight exaggeration.

So if, like me, you thought you were a middle-aged, Caucasian, heterosexual male who has written a full-length historical comedy about Shakespeare, you can be mighty restricted in what you can do with it.

“Aha,” I hear you saying.  “He ‘thought’ he was a middle-aged Caucasian.  Wouldn’t he know?”   Apparently not.  Last week I was going through some papers in the attic, and I discovered that I’m not middle-aged, Caucasian and heterosexual at all.  And it turns out that I’m a sixteen year old, black, gay, female, Hispanic whose ancestors come from Armenia.

The good news is that my new demographics nearly match a listing I came across yesterday.  The bad news is that to enter the contest, the play needs to be no longer than 10 pages and I need to live in Delaware.  Don’t worry, though, while I’m waiting for the moving van to arrive I’m working on cutting 70 pages out of “Shakespeare Incorporated.”  They were mostly fluff, anyway.

Aren’t I lucky that the attic is so full of papers I’ve never been through?

3 Responses to "I’m a gay, black, Hispanic, female, Armenian …"

I always had my eye on you.. you know. You just struck me as “that type”….. lol

Great article…

I submitted you to a friend for some readership… hope you get lucky and accepted there.. no matter of your “preferences” this week..

Thanks for the plug. I was starting to think I’m alone out here!

My favorite: there was finally a grant for someone (ahem) above age 40, little recognition but significant body of work for an older “emerging” playwright – (been emerging for almost two decades). I inquired. Someone “up there” needs to recommend you. Who? Someone familiar with your work. Okay. Can I do it? No, “they” have to recommend you. WHO??? It’s a secret. They have to find you.

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