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Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A bit about the playscripts market

I'm published in a few places, but Playscripts.com has a very nice interface for playwrights to see how often their excerpts have been hit and read, and keeps track of sales on a regular basis. Many more traditional companies provide you with a regular statement.

On Playscripts.com, I have one play published: The Death of King Arthur. That play has been lightly noticed there, and has sold not terribly many copies since it's original publication date in August of 2006. I like to imagine that it's lack of sales is due to the fact that it has a cast of between 14 to 25 and is relatively tough to stage. That's something I'd rather believe than people read the excerpt and don't really like it. Denial is a writer's friend.

But there's definitely something interesting I see, at least in some small way, on my information page.

I have monologues into two anthologies through Playscripts: Actor's Choice: Monologues for Men and Actor's Choice: Monologues for Teens.

Between those two books, the teen edition's excerpts have been viewed almost five times more often than the men's monologue books, and it has sold nearly double the number of copies.

That's not a small difference.

Which is not to say that even the more popular one would be on the bestseller list of any other market. It's simply the largest part of a very small market.

What might that say? That teens use the internet to look for material much more frequently than adults. That's obvious. But also that the primary market (at least for Playscripts) is high schools, without a doubt. That's where the money is, that's where the interest is, that's who is looking at the website. Probably 80% of those ordering, according to my interface, are high schools.

This is the problem with a value system based on what the market wants. If playwrights were run by the principles of Adam Smith and supply and demand, it would weed out all work written for anyone over 18. As it is, the market discourages adult work written for adults as anything other than a labor of love.

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