Cover of The Dramatist Jan/Feb 2022: The Motivation Issue
TABLE OF CONTENTS
End of Play 2022
  • End of Play 2022 graphic
    End of Play.® is a registered trademark of the Dramatists Guild of America
  • End_of_Play
    End of Play.® is a registered trademark of the Dramatists Guild of America

All you need to do is Google “writer’s block” to discern that often the hardest challenge for a writer, regardless of their skillset or experience level, can be finding the time and motivation to sit down and write. Life gets in the way, a new piece may offer unforeseen creative roadblocks, certain feedback or criticism may lead to doubt… the list of the struggles that leads to this place is endless, really, and anyone who has written for long enough has probably heard or shared countless variations of these experiences.

In the beginning of 2020, the Dramatists Guild posed the question: “Who thinks they can write the first draft of a play in a month?” From that question, End of Play.® was born: a program with the goal of inspiring the creation of new plays through motivation, connection, and a shared goal.

So far, approximately 2,000 dramatists from around the world have participated in the challenge over the course of two years.

What Is It?

End of Play is an annual initiative created by the Dramatists Guild to incentivize the completion of new plays, scores, or songs over the period of one month. Each year, participating writers take a pledge to overcome the obstacles that stand in the way of writing the first draft of a new play.

Participants may set goals for themselves at the beginning of End of Play month, post weekly updates with their personal progress to the community, and/or attend regional and national events. Whether a participant is writing a new full-length play/musical, two one-act plays/musicals, or completing a second draft of any of the above, ultimately, the goal of End of Play is to get writers to the finish line through motivation and community.

Over the course of the month, Guild staff in conjunction with an army of volunteers provide a network of support that spans from kick-off events, check-ins, daily inspirational emails, accountability mechanisms, networking opportunities for formulating writers’ groups, regional touch-bases, silent writing sessions, and more.

Interested dramatists register at the beginning of the month and may choose their own level of participation outside of our daily check-in emails to accommodate for the variety of individual writing processes. The Groups section of the Dramatists Guild website provides a mechanism for participants to connect to one another all across the globe to share their progress and experience throughout the month. Participants are also encouraged to share their experiences via social media using the hashtag #EndofPlay, with many posts re-shared via DG social media throughout the month to highlight their participation and provide positive reinforcement for others.

End of Play launched in March 2020, as the world was grappling with a new normal and shifting away from in-person gatherings. During this time, the roughly 800 dramatists who had registered for the challenge powered through to continue writing towards their goal. Our events coordinators seamlessly shifted writers’ groups and meet and greets that were scheduled in regions all across the country and abroad to an online format when gathering in person became impossible. This led to 33 events offered throughout the month by volunteer events coordinators.

As the world shut down and events, theatre, and social gatherings began to be cancelled, End of Play kept going. Many dramatists were as engaged as ever and searching for a group of people to connect with.

The first year of End of Play became a surrogate for finding a community when the COVID-19 pandemic was forcing communities apart. “This was a perfect way to connect to new writers, and to simply connect in general, at a time when we have been so disconnected due to the pandemic,” said Carol German, 2020 Volunteer Event Coordinator.

In its second year, End of Play saw an uptick in engagement to 1,200 dramatists and a wider array of folks becoming volunteer coordinators. One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, online experiences had become the new normal for many, leading to an offering of 137 events across the country for End of Play participants to choose from.

As a result of the essential need to breathe life into new work and connect with other creatives, participants of End of Play in these first two years helped make it the truly heartwarming global support network for writers everywhere it has evolved into today.

All of the events offered during these months were organized, conceived, and moderated by volunteer event organizers, including a large faction of DG Regional Representatives and Ambassadors. Some of these event coordinators have offered reflections on their experiences with us, below:

Alicia Whavers, New Jersey

“I think it really fosters community for those who are aware of the program. I met several playwrights all throughout NJ, but also a few that I have known for over a decade and were mentors to me. To sit and share our experiences writing, to have a community of people whose goals align with yours, and support you, is invaluable. And to me, the DG is about support and community.”

Joshua Irving Gershick, Southern California

“We started on April 1, with nearly 30 playwrights and crossed the finish line on April 30, with fifteen. Throughout, we cheered each other on and applauded our progress. I loved everyone’s can-do attitude, persistence, and generosity of spirit. We were in that contest together.”

Nichole M. Palmer, North Carolina

“I enjoyed meeting the people in my states. Knowing that there were others who needed encouragement along their journeys just showed me that we truly aren’t alone. Writers may feel like they exist in silos, but we really don’t. We’re part of the creative fabric called storytelling.”

The efforts and tenacity of the events coordinators were truly astonishing, showing what is possible when Guild members step up to help one another. It is an essential component to the heart of our organization, as expressed in the Guild mission statement: “We recognize that much of the creative work of authorship is undertaken in isolation, so we foster a sense of union and community among our members in order to enrich, inspire, and empower them to advocate for themselves, for their work, and for each other.”

At the close of the challenge, countless new plays came into existence, and many writers met their goals, creating works that simply never existed before. Even though some writers may not have met their initial goals, they still made a significant step forward by putting their writing first and getting their creative ideas on paper.

There is a moment of pure elation that always comes with writing the words “End of play.” at the end of a first draft. You’ve done it; all the ideas swimming around your head have finally been realized on the page. However, what shortly follows is a universal question… what’s next?

In order to try to help writers broaden their communities and take the next step with their plays, DG collaborated with The 24 Hour Plays® to offer an opportunity for these new plays to take the next step of development.

“The 24 Hour Plays brings together creative communities to produce plays and musicals that are written, rehearsed, and performed in 24 hours,” said General Manager Madelyn Paquette, who worked with us to connect playwrights with actors in an elaborate scheduling matrix. “Given our history of collaboration with DG and our mission to bring together creative communities to make work in a time-limited way, stepping in to help manage the logistics of the End of Play readings felt like a natural fit,” Madelyn said of the experience. “I think the biggest thing both The 24 Hour Plays and End of Play have in common is that we believe that writing a play is something that can happen now, not later. Whether in one month or one day, writing is a dynamic process that you don’t need to wait to start.”

In the second year, we responded to the positive reactions from participants by deciding to double the amount of readings we would offer. “The sheer volume of participants was probably the most challenging part. Fifty readings felt like quite a lot in 2020, and then in 2021, we doubled that to present 100 readings with more than 400 total artists! As you can imagine, some intense spreadsheets were involved,” said Madelyn.

The overwhelming interest in table reads among the participating playwrights is a reminder that the process of writing plays is never over. Though April may be only 30 days long, and the challenge of completing a draft within that time eventually comes to an end, playwrights will always be working and redrafting. And the community of writers we created in End of Play will grow to include actors, directors, designers, and eventually  an audience. The life of a play is unexpected, but one thing is always true; many artists come together to bring a writer’s vision to life. End of Play isn’t the end, after all. It’s the beginning.

Although End of Play involves a common goal and a shared set of resources, it is a deeply personal experience for each person. Every playwright comes in with their own set of goals and ambitions for their play, and they choose to take part in whatever aspect of End of Play they find most helpful. Some may find that the Silent Writing sessions allow them a dedicated writing time, and that the others in the group just being there, also writing, helps them to focus. Others may respond to the daily emails filled with words of inspiration and writing prompts. Some may find chatting with others in the groups on our website, or in a writing group that will mull over challenges or congratulate one another’s success the most rewarding. We have designed End of Play as a menu of options so that each playwright has what they need to cross their own personal finish line.

Do you think you are up for the challenge? What do you think you could do with one month dedicated to putting writing first and creating the first draft of a new play?

There’s only one way to find out. Join us in April 2022 for the next round as a participant and/or an End of Play volunteer event coordinator, and let’s get to writing.

To find out more information, including past writing prompts and to register for next year, visit the End of Play page on the Dramatists Guild website.

Fostering an artistic community is more important than ever before. So, connect with your fellow playwrights, and let’s all make something we’re proud of. We hope you’ll join us!  

 

Register for End of Play 2022

Photo of Lily Dwoskin
LILY DWOSKIN

is the Office Manager of the Dramatists Guild and co-administrator for End of Play. She is also a bookwriter and lyricist based in New York. Selected works include: The AviatrixHyena in Petticoats, and The Scarlet Savior. Lily’s work has been performed at St. Luke’s Theatre, The Laurie Beechman Theatre, The Greenroom 42, and more. www.lilydwoskin.com

Photo of Jordan K. Stovall
Jordan K. Stovall

(they/them) is a writer, drag performer, and queer events producer based in London, UK. They presently serve as the DG Regional Programs Manager, co-administrator for End of Play, and Program Manager for the New Visions Fellowship in collaboration with National Queer Theater. www.jordanstovall.com / IG: @wanda.whatever