Who: Actors, playwrights and play-lovers are invited to attend, participate and submit their work.
The first time Janet S. Tiger offered a play for a public reading, it
was almost the last time she offered a play for a public reading.
The work was called “Little Horrors,” and “it was a big horror,” says
Tiger. She laughs about it now because that was more than three decades
ago, and because she can.
The problem maybe wasn’t the play itself so much as the fact it took
four hours to read, at that 1980 gathering of the San Diego
dramatist-development group known by the playful name Scripteasers.
“At intermission, I was so embarrassed I wished I could crawl under a
rock,” recalls Tiger, who notes that, shortly afterward, Scripteasers
passed a rule that every reading had to be over by 10:30 p.m. “or it’s
Yet what Tiger most recalls about the experience is how Jonathan
Dunn-Rankin — the San Diego actor, former TV newsman and longtime
Scripteasers leader — asked attendees not to harp on the play’s length
during the regular post-reading discussion period. Instead, they offered
candid but respectful criticism and guidance.
“I never touched that play again,” says Tiger. “But the next play I
brought them was ‘The Waiting Room,’ which was about 45 minutes long. It
worked really well, and it’s been produced all over the world.
“I like to say that Scripteasers is the reason I am a writer. If they had been mean to me, I probably would’ve just gone away.”
Dunn-Rankin is still a principal of Scripteasers, which has been meeting
regularly for an astonishing 65 years. And Tiger is still testing out
her plays there.
On a recent Friday evening in February — 33 years to the day after the
“Little Horrors” incident, in fact — Tiger was back at the group’s
regular gathering of about 30 people, witnessing volunteer actors read a
new play of hers called “I Was a Teenage Grandpa” at Dunn-Rankin’s
This is the way it’s been done at Scripteasers for decades: Playwrights
submit their work in advance for consideration, and if a play is
selected for reading, it gets into the hands of an ever-shifting lineup
of actors at the group’s get-togethers.
After the reading, the play is opened up for discussion, with a
moderator guiding the conversation to such topics as character
development, use of language and the work’s potential marketability.
“A lot of these people have amazing backgrounds and information,” says
director, actor and sketch comic Mitch Feingold, a former Scripteasers
vice president who has been participating for about 10 years. “(I) may
or may not agree with things (they say), but I enjoy the discussions a
lot. It’s been an education — a good one.”
The playwright does get the last word (whether it’s a rebuttal or just
an expression of thanks), but only after the rest have spoken.
Some 1,200 scripts have gone through this process over the decades at
Scripteasers. (The group also sponsors an annual short-play contest that
offers modest cash prizes.)
While the post-reading comments are meant to be made “in a professional,
courteous manner” (as the Scripteasers website has it), that doesn’t
necessarily mean punches are pulled. Part of the point is for writers to
receive honest and helpful criticism.
“The idea is to be constructive,” as Feingold puts it. “I’m usually the
one who’s very forward — (it’s my) New York personality. I’ll listen,
and everybody will be dancing around the problems, and then I’ll say,
‘From my perspective, this is what I’m seeing.’ That can open the
floodgates for discussion.”
One aspect of the Scripteasers experience that sets it apart from more
conventional, formal staged readings, says Tiger, is that “it’s a cold
reading, (so) the actors don’t know where the play is going either. So
you get a sensation you can’t get anywhere else.”
Over the years since she stepped into that first meeting, Tiger has
written and published dozens of plays and seen them staged around the
country and world.
She notes with particular pride that the “Blood” monologue, from her
AIDS-focused play “Transfusion,” was read by a young Presidential
Scholar named Derrick C. Cooper Jr. at the Kennedy Center in Washington,
D.C., in 2007. “Transfusion” was first read at Scripteasers.
And as it happens, Tiger’s very first produced play also was read initially at one of the group’s meetings.
Its title: “Scriptease.” Its genre: murder mystery.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Note - In between the lower section ending in 2008 and the above 2013, there are five years of awards and productions that have to be added.
Most recent award -
Janet S. Tiger was chosen as Swedenborg Hall's Playwright-in-Residence for 2006-7, and received a commission to complete THE END OF DEATH (The Future Ain't What it Used to Be!) which will premiere in August 2007. Click here for more info.
DFAS National One-Act Playwriting Contest DAY OF ATONEMENT - cash award
and full production WORLD PREMIERE -- and I will be going back to the
production in August - to my friends in Dubuque - see you soon!
(But this time I'm not coming by bus - I'm not 26 anymore! I'm
taking the plane!)
This page will eventually contain a complete list of my awards, but until
then, here's a very partial list of awards/commissions/grants given my
work: (One day, each play will have its own page, history, photos
and reviews - that's the goal.)
First award - Gassner Memorial Playwriting Competition - THE WAITING ROOM, one-act
DFAS National One-Act Playwriting
(DFAS ---Dubuque Fine Arts Society, Dubuque, Iowa)
- THE WAITING ROOM, 2nd Place, 1982
THE AFFIDAVIT, 1st Place, 1983
BLIND WOMAN'S BLUFF, 3rd Place, 1984
I went to see the production of THE WAITING ROOM in 1982, made many
wonderful friends and returned again in 1983 and 1984 to see the other
productions. The people were always friendly and the productions
very well done. Two other plays have placed in the contest
SAVE A PLACE FOR ME, 1989, Honorable Mention
CURSE OF THE DUCHESS, 2nd Place, 1990,
which was produced and televised on Iowa Public Access Cable Channel
THE THIRD PARTY, Gaslamp Quarter Theater, San Diego, CA 1984 Director- Jean Hauser
Best New Play Nominee, San Diego Theatre Critics Circle
COMBO-NEA GRANT to finish TRANSFUSION, OH, SUSANNAH and DON'T YOU CRY FOR ME
Commission from Aaronson Foundation to write SAVE A PLACE FOR ME
Commission from the Kerr Foundation to write THE THIRD PARTY
Commission from the Kallis Foundation to write K.I.S.S.
Commission from Dr. Howard Kurshenbaum to write RENNY'S STORY 2005-6
Copyright 2005 Janet S. Tiger. All rights reserved.