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I really appreciate Playscripts and their work toward creating better theater and theater experiences for all. Jay Muldoon Theater Teacher, Fairfield, OH
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Why I Write Plays for High Schools

“Why do you write plays for high schools?”  I am often asked by fans I was asked by the marketing department at Playscripts as a possible starting point for a blog entry. And to my legion of loyal readers Lane Bernes, Marketing Director at Playscripts and anyone else reading this blog entry I say, “Well it’s complicated, but I’ve broken my answer down in 5 easy categories (much like one of my desperately titled plays!).”

 1.  The Money.  Oh sweet lord the money.

 Most self-interested, greedy money mongers are going to tell you that the best way to make millions is… be a wall street broker, or become a real estate mogul or get into the whole “dealing or making crystal meth” racket.  But if they only knew!  Seriously, the Gordon Gekko’s of the world would turn in their Armani suits for carpal tunnel protecting gloves like THAT.  Why do you think I’m doing this?  For the art?  For the schools?  Because I have no other skills or talents?!?  Nope! Like any other sociopath capitalist I’m in this for one thing: The benjamins. The Cabbage.  The mean greens.  The Norman Rockwell Confetti. The Martha Stewart’s secret ingredient.  I’m talkin’ about money, son!  My life is basically Wolf of Wall Street minus being investigated by FBI and plus MORE MONEY.  Money, money, money, money, money!

 2.  You get to wear jammie pants until 12:30 every day.

This is true more days than I’d like to admit.  Sad you say?  Well I say its “comfortable” and “life affirming.”  Hey corporate lawyer with a corner office and a vacation house in Myrtle beach, how’s you’re snug, itchy suit pants treating you at 12:15!  Not as comfortable as my one size too big cotton jammy pants.  Enjoy having a job that’s easy to explain at weddings, because I’m SUPER COMFORTABLE right now.  Boom!  True, after 12:30, either a sense of internal judgment or the mailman drops by and you have to put on “adult clean trousers,” but until then you are having the best, most comfortable day from the belly button down.

 3.  Getting to young minds before better playwrights/reality does.

 What I didn’t realize when I started writing plays for high schools was how nice it would be to hear things like “I really enjoyed working on your play” or “I had never been in a play before, but doing your play gave me confidence I never knew I had.”  This is sincerely heartwarming and gets me out of bed and into my jammies most mornings.  However, by the time a person like this reaches college, one of two things will happen.  One,  Said person will actually pursue a career in theater and become exposed to writers of immense talents like Miller, Chekov, O’Neill, Kushner, etc.  And then my plays, which at first seemed like a fun, exciting romps (hopefully) will become rote, pandering, and the reason theatre is dying in the 21st century (and for the record 3rd year B.F.A. student at NYU, I am not the reason!  The internet, capitalism, and reality TV are the real reasons.  Also Cameron Mackintosh didn’t help.  I love Phantom of the Opera as much as the next guy but his shows really drove up ticket prices mid 80’s).  OR, Two, Said person will pursue a career in anything but theatre (to which their parents will say “Wooooo!” as they put a down payment on a vacation home they now will be able to afford).  And after a few years, the fact that person was ever even in a play will seem like a strange fever dream and/or act of shame.  But not matter which path you choose (Chose B!  B!) if one of my plays introduced you to the world of theater, if it in some small way showed how exhilarating, scary, and fun being in a play can be… well that’s a pretty great feeling.  Not as great as all the money but… what is?

 4.  The Playscripts Playwright’s home page:

 So here’s something you probably didn’t know.  When you get published by Playscripts Inc., you get your own home page where you can look at sales statistics of any play you’ve had published.  It tells you every time someone orders a copy of your play, requests a production, or even when someone downloads a free sample.  And I know what you’re thinking, “Is that really a reason why you write plays for high schools?”  YES!  It is.  Being a writer is a lonely and solitary profession.  Being a writer of plays is lonely and solitary and sad.  You often wonder “Does anyone like anything I’m doing?”  With they Playscripts playwrights Home page… you kind of know that people like what you’re writing!  Knowing that a school in Mililani, Hawaii is doing a production of your play, or that someone in Klerksdorp, South Africa bought a single copy of your silly one-act keeps those self-doubting demons at bay and justifies my resistance to applying to law school.  Also, knowing there’s actually a town called Klerksdorp is pretty great.

 5.  Theatre was my life in high school, I feel honored to give back.

 Uh oh, we just took a detour to genuine town.  Where’s the ironic detachment!?  Where’s the snarky asides!? This feels weird to me too, I know but bear with me.  Every time I write a play, or get an email from a teacher or student telling me how their production went, I’m transported back to [DATE REDACTED] and think about 15-year-old me.  Awkward, hyper, clearly not turning into the 6’9 power forward I predicted I’d be in 3rd grade.  Like most people I was lonely, uncomfortable in my lanky prepubescent body, and desperate to belong to something.  For me, it was a highschool teacher, Carol Cadby, and being cast in a one-act play, that helped me find a place, a group, and a purpose in these formative years.  I feel honored and very lucky to be able to contribute back to the thing the helped me survive high school.  Not in the way dedicated theater teachers do, by working long hours and being intimately involved in the growth and well being of their student; but in my own way: detached, in my jammies, away from your germs and angsty attitudes.  I like to think that in some small way I’m making a difference in young theater goers lives.

 But first and foremost it’s the comfortable pants.

Ian McWethy

Ian McWethy’s plays include Moral Values…, Actors are Stupid, Bad Auditions by Bad Actors, and 12 Incompetent Men (And Women!). Fifteen of his one-act plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc. and have been performed in all fifty states as well as Canada, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, England, Cambodia, Philippines, Azerbaijan, South Korea, Pakistan, the Marshall Islands, Qatar, Portugal, Brazil, Italy and Saudia Arabia. He’s also written several screenplays, sitcom pilots, short films, and a webseries. He’s happily married to Carrie McCrossen and splits his time between California and New York. Mr. McWethy is represented by Kersey Management and Bricken Entertainment.

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