rogeliomartinezIt’s spring which means it’s time to think about who you’re going to ask to the prom. At least that was the case for me in those years when things that matter little now took on a terrible importance. 

When I look back at that time I realize just how much control I had over my life. I would ask and it would either be a yes or a no or “I’ll let you know in a week. You’re my backup plan.” The response would come quickly. There was no waiting around for an answer. 

Playwrights have little control over what happens to their lives…their plays. Some time in the late summer or early fall we get our plays out there with the hope they find a home somewhere (multiple homes if you’re lucky). Once the work is out there you start wondering if it will be a yes, a no, or maybe even some theater’s backup plan.

Winter and spring are the time when the rejections come. They come in waves; and you wonder why if they like you and your work so much (this is always the case with any rejection letter I get) is the play not being chosen. Unlike prom season, no matter how many theaters you send your work to a yes is not a guarantee.

So what to do while waiting? Well you either read a good novel or watch the NCAA tournament. Recently I’ve been doing both.

A few days ago I watched Oregon knock out defending national champion Duke University. For those of us who know college basketball Mike Krzyzewski, the coach of the Blue Devils, is a legend having won five NCAA championships. Losing is not part of his vocabulary. However, he has famously said that “the life expectancy of a team is about eight months. Then the next year is a whole new team.”

The life expectancy of a rejection letter is a day, a month, a year, or even a lifetime. It’s what you do with it. If you follow Coach K’s philosophy you try to figure out why you were rejected…why you lost. You figure out why and you rebuild. You start over. Every eight months is a new team; every eight months hope comes around again. I think Carly Simon may have said that last statement better but I have no space left — nor enough of your attention — to go and quote her. 

It hurts to be told no but remember that the no gains you access to a special club of writers who have been told no multiple times only to win in the end. It gains you access to a special club of losers who will win again. 

Next year Duke will once again be in contention for the national championship, you will be in contention for a special place in some theater’s season, and some poor soul in high school will be hoping to be more than just someone’s backup plan.

The Backup Plan
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Rogelio Martinez

Rogelio is the winner of the first ever Mid-Career Fellowship at the Lark Theater Company. Ping Pong, his play about Nixon, Mao, and the hippie that brought the two together, is part of this season’s Public Studio series at The Public.  His new play, Born in East Berlin, will be given a workshop at the Arden in April.  Some of Rogelio’s plays include Wanamaker’s Pursuit  (Arden Theater),  When Tang Met Laika  (Sloan Grant/ Denver Center/ Perry Mansfield),  All Eyes and Ears (INTAR at Theater Row),  Fizz (NEA/ TCG Grant/ Besch Solinger Productions at the Ohio Theatre, New Theater Miami),  Learning Curve (Smith and Krauss New Playwrights: Best Plays of 2005/ Besch Solinger Productions at Theater Row),  I Regret She’s Made of Sugar (winner of the 2001 Princess Grace Award),  Arrivals and Departures (Summer Play Festival),  Union City... (E.S.T, winner of the James Hammerstein Award), and Displaced  (Marin Theater Co.) In addition, Rogelio’s work has been developed and presented at the Public Theater, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Mark Taper Forum, South Coast Repertory, the Magic Theater, and Ojai Theater Company among others. Rogelio is an alumnus of New Dramatists and his plays are published by Broadway Play Publishing. He has received commissions from the Mark Taper Forum, the Atlantic Theater Company, the Arden Theater Company, Denver Center Theater, and South Coast Repertory.  In the past Rogelio has been profiled in a cover story in American Theater Magazine. In addition to writing, Rogelio teaches playwriting at Goddard College, Montclair University, and Primary Stages as well as private workshops. For several years Rogelio was a member of the Dorothy Strelsin New American Writer’s Group at Primary Stages. In television, Rogelio has written for Astroblast, a children’s television show. Rogelio was born in Cuba and arrived in this country in 1980 during the Mariel boatlift.  He lives in New York with his family.  

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3 thoughts on “The Backup Plan

  • March 29, 2016 at 10:24 pm
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    Thank you, my friend. I really needed to hearun that. I have been a bit penned in. Not knowing which way to jump. So I haven’t. It is time to jump, but which way? You got me looking; I guess that’s a start. How I miss Goddard.

  • March 29, 2016 at 1:21 pm
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    So true.

  • March 29, 2016 at 10:39 am
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    Thanks very much, again, for the awesome reads from Goddard that arrive in my mailbox regularly. I am sitting here asking myself about the Plan B’s of the World. I think of all those who are homeless, or facing homelessness, “Do I stay or flee?” almost daily. Danger from too much heat, too cold, contamination, mold, flood, fire, abusive situation, terror, or any of the other traps I have seen. One needs a Plan B. Invariably, since the Rescuers of the World, those thieving liars hired for their smiles and bedside manner are waiting, waiting for more Suckers to grab onto that bait one more time, grab hold tight and pay, pay, pay, believing the promises.

    Oh yes, always have a Plan B. I’m out here on the playing field in the mud, freezing my butt off. I suppose the rest will view the replays on the tube.

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