Theatre Horror Stories

Theatre Horror Story: The Director Stole My Money (and didn’t direct a thing)

This playwright is an acquaintance and Dramatists Guild Member.

I had a short play accepted for a festival far from me, and put out a call for directors. Eventually one young man responded, a recent college grad, who didn’t live close to the theatre but was willing to travel. As this was self-produced, he wanted to know my budget, and eventually asked for an advance on expenses equivalent to about 1/3 of the final amount.

[Generous playwright]

I sent this amount to him and everything seemed fine until about 3 weeks before the festival date, when he suddenly informed me he had to replace actors repeatedly and so was withdrawing because he didn’t feel he could do a creditable job in the time remaining. Nothing would make him budge, so given the unlikelihood of finding a new director at short notice, I withdrew the play.

[I also know the pain of withdrawing a play because of flaky directors. I think many of us do.]

Definitely reminds me of a song about the theatre. Artwork by Maiyal.

This wasn’t great, but the festival was very nice about it and offered me a slot for next year. But despite repeated reminders, this director has failed to return the money I advanced him.

[I hope that director bought a sandwich at Subway with the playwright’s money and Subway ran his card twice.]

Since the playwright sent the original story, this happened…

Update: he finally responded to me and promised to return the money. Fingers crossed.

Probably actually the “crossies” thing kids do when they make  apromise so they don’t actually have to keep it. Except the director is (allegedly) a fully formed adult and not a tadpole.

Thanks for reading.

Abuse and unprofessionalism in the theatre should stop. We’re supposed to be on the same team, but that seems to be the exception, rather than the rule.

Please check out our first theatre horror story, too

Hopefully, I can keep making these posts until American theatre becomes a safer working environment. I’ll probably be 1,500 years old by then. 

I want to thank our anonymous playwright who bravely came to me with this story. 

If anyone has a story to share, please reach out to me. You will always be anonymous.