In my various playwright groups, both in person and online, the general opinion is that you get far more productions through people who already know your work, and their recommending it to others. (As opposed to flinging it out into the universe with a nice cover letter). I go both ways (solicited and unsolicited!)
When Ed asked me for something that might have a fantastic or horror component in it, I went into my trunk o'10-minute plays and pulled out "Ted's Head," a piece I've always hoped to see done, and it's even been accepted a couple times, but has somehow never made it to a full production.
We talked about the play, and Ed's opinion was that it needed to be expanded a bit, and asked if I'd consider it, and he'd like to recommend it to the company. I took a look at the piece (which I haven't actually read in a couple of years), and I said yes, I thought I could write more of it.
I haven't actually gotten around to it yet...but the company has begun to work on it, and is sending me questions.
The play originated as an assignment in Tina Howe's workshop at Hunter College. Tina loves the Weekly World News, and its fantastic stories, and often used them to create assignments that would stretch our imaginations.
In one issue, WWN wrote about an Egyptian mummy that had been revived! And was now alive again! (And of course there were pictures). So Tina told the class: write a short play in which a mummy is revived and what happens next.
I always liked turning Tina's assignments inside-out, or coming at them in a way that didn't seem apparent at first read.
So I thought: are there mummies now? Are there people who preserve themselves, perhaps hoping to come back to the next world (or the future?) And I thought: well, there's cryogenics. That is, people who have themselves frozen immediately upon their deaths in the belief that one day, science will be able to cure what killed them. (There was an article about cryonics in The New Yorker in January, which basically debunked the science, and showed, I thought, rather empathetically, some of the reasons which might drive people to have themselves, or their loved ones, frozen).
And I also thought about one of the most famous frozen people: baseball great Ted Williams (though Walt Disney is right up there).
Williams was decapitated after his death in 2002, and his head frozen, as his son wished. It was the start, rather than the end of a messy business, and a court battle ensued, and Ted's head remains frozen. (Though it has apparently been badly treated: in 2009, it was reported that the head had been abused and hit with a wrench).
So, what if scientists, say 500 years from now, actually were able to wake up the people frozen so many centuries before?
Of course, 500 years or so into the future is about the same distance from our time as we are from Shakespeare, and look how the language has changed since then! So I had to invent how people might talk in 500 years, how the language might have evolved.
And, I had to do this in such a way that an audience could figure out what was going on. Ted's head could talk in a late 20th-century style, but the scientists who wake him couldn't.
I'm not an invented language kind of writer, so I took it as a challenge. The likes of Anne Washburn and David Ives and Mark O'Donnell are people who can do stuff like that, and I've seen and read their work and tried to figure out how to say what I wanted to say (500 years from now).
This is how one of the scientists tells Ted what has happened:
MREEN: I Mreen. I splain you. (Pause; Mreen struggles with unfamiliar words and phrasing) Ted! You choosen, many times ago, to cold your own self in way, way past. We make you wake. Things is cured! Put...energy in your head. Wake up Ted! Wake up! Now is future! Smart smart smart we!
And so on. Somehow, they find a way to communicate, and Ted says what he wants. And the scientists argue, and one finally makes a decision.
I have to add some stuff to it now. The actors and directors are asking me questions: like "Who was Ted Williams?" (Sigh). And questions about the motivations of the scientists who wake up Ted, and what they eventually decide to do.
So I have to go back to the future and remember how I came up with the logic of the language, and create new beats and actions in that vernacular that sound as though they were all written at the same time (in the future). And I may have to go back into the past, and dig up more stuff about Ted Williams and present it in a way that doesn't seem TOO much like exposition. Almost all of Ted's dialogue is "found," that is, things he actually said, that I pulled up from interviews and his biography.
I'm looking forward to it, I think. Or perhaps I'm looking back on having done it.