Monday, May 2, 2011


The Celebration of Failure – an unproducably short play Based on a true story

By Guest Blogger of the Week, Stacy Davidowitz.

FRIEND: How was your day?

STACY: Great! I got the best rejection letter ever! (Beat) Wanna see it?
(STACY crosses Kitchen Left to the fridge where we see
Hair and Catch Me magnets, a collection of postcards, photos and “thanks for letting me crash on your couch” notes, a 9 year-old’s MASH game, a NYC Half Marathon certificate, a Thanksgiving card of Grandma surrounded by mostly naked models in a shopping mall in Rome, and her newest addition: two of the nicest rejection letters she’s ever received.)
NARRATOR (V.O.): Moral of the story: “Don’t get hung up, hang it up!”

Things you might be thinking right now:
  1. No means no.
  2. Her optimism makes me want to throw up.
  3. I’d reject her too – she’s ugly.

Let’s take it back now, ya’ll. Three hops this time. Slide to the—

OK, OK, yes.
Rejection is painful.
No one is denying that.

Starting with the exhausting collection of:
Application, Cover Letter, 10-page sample, Resume, Bio, Letters of Recommendation, References, CDs, Scores, SASE, Full-script bound or unbound or clipped or double-sided or blindly submitted or hole-punched six times or wrapped up in fine leather and non-meltable chocolate in this font but not so big but not so small either.


Next up is agonizing purgatory—waiting three months to a year to never for a response. Any response. Hopefully, an amazing response. Fingers crossed not a sucky response. Is it going to be a sucky response? Why am I a playwright? I should have been a doctor. I could be a doctor. I’m going to die a failure. I just died. I’m dead.


And then finally, your apprehension succumbs to a whole other feeling – perhaps adrenaline-induced nausea – as you open that email with the vague “Submission” subject heading or sort of notice “Unfortunately” in Gmail’s preview of the message or slowly begin to peel then impatiently tear open the standard-sized envelope all while wondering why the envelope is so small – are they keeping it professional or are they sending more materials later or wouldn’t they have called or did I miss their call or…


I don’t want to pigeon-hole the physical reaction my body experiences as I digest rejection, but because nailing down the gut-wrenching feeling might reward us all some power, I’m going to do it.

Depending on my hope in the project, faith in the recipient, or my own dreams of fame, glory, and the opportunity to submit the full-freaking-script without an agent, my reactions take on sensations ranging anywhere from an unpleasant dab at the heart to “slow-motion brick crashing my heart up to the back of my throat.” The heart is always involved.

Sound awful? You know it is.

Rejection is an inevitable consequence of the obsessive submitter. Of course, you can’t expect opportunities to land in your lap while being a never-nude. You’ve gotta get yourself out there! You have to! No, seriously, share your work.


(So this is where I might lose you, but try to stay with me as I now go back and…)


I love submitting my work. I’m proud of it, I’m ready to share it, I want more than anything for it to be exposed the world, and I will not miss an opportunity to make that happen.

Like, it’s an addiction.

Sure, packaging my materials is tedious, but once I’ve clicked send or have left the post office empty-handed save a tracking receipt, it can be so sweetly hopeful. Like a newly adopted puppy before being returned to the pound. Or winning a goldfish at a Purim Carnival before it dies in the car ride home. Anything is possible before it’s not!

It’s not entirely masochistic. I don’t enjoy submission for the painful rush of rejection. I just think about it differently. I know rejection will most likely come, but in the time between sending my play off and receiving a reply, I wholly trust that someone if not everyone who has touched it has found it truly special. I’ve worked my ass off and now it’s time for all my effort to pay off.

The universe will spin.
The stars will align.
Broadway will call – Broadway’s a person, right?
Whatever, I will be famous.


But like all hard-core drugs, after a high there’s a crash. And that crash can be mild or it can be a CRASH. That’s why I keep submitting. See? Addiction.

The mere truth of it is quantum physics is just not going to be on your side. It isn’t about the stars or your focused energy and prayers, your mantras or your blind optimism or self-effacing doubt. The refusal of your darkly comedic, universal, groundbreaking, one-of-a-kind baby may be for a number of reasons. Nine, according to me.
  1. They’re stupid.
  2. You’re stupid.
  3. Subscribers would unsubscribe.
  4. It’s so crazy! 
  5. Not enough incest.
  6. Too much rape.
  7. I’m not famous.
  8. I’m too famous.
  9. Racism.
OK, not nine reasons. A buh-jillion reasons. Infinity reasons. It can be ANYTHING.

Your play, your application, your voice are unique. But just because that’s a blessing, doesn’t mean it’s not a curse. It could get you exactly what you want or it can land you with that dreaded “thanks, but no thanks” again and again. And from my experience, the more standard the rejection, the harder the slap. It’s coldly polite, definitive, and verifies nothing but that your work is not welcome. Let’s steer clear of standard and tomorrow we will visit the two extremes—The Worstest and The Bestest Rejection Letters Ever.

Stay tuned.

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