How to Write for the American Theater

Posted: April 9, 2009 in Braak, Threat Quality
Tags: , ,

I guess Holland is busy today, or something.  I never really know what he’s up to.

For your professional development as a playwright in these United States, I have made a flowchart that I believe will be of some assistance.  It’s wide, so you’ll have to click on it to enlarge.


  1. Jeff Holland says:

    Wow, that is…pretty accurate.

    Not exactly on-topic, but still important: The Bacon Flow Chart –

    (Where I am: as it turns out, I’m so FREAKING GOOD at my job that they’ve assigned me more work. However, I did manage to find a few minutes to write something for tomorrow. And I have Lindsay Lohan to thank for it.)

  2. wench says:


  3. V.I.P. Referee says:

    But I’m confused; where are we supposed to express our extreme anxiety over embracing wealth, accepting the painful burden of upper class status, or the rejecting of it, by way of slumming with poor artists? The usual problems we all experience, like; should I be the prominent attorney my Dad was, or claim intellectual independence by taking my inheritance and renting a studio apartment in TriBeca, where I’ll compose the music that will shape future generations? Should I turn my back on my mother’s W.A.S.P heritage and live on the reservation where my anthropologist great-grandfather had a tryst with a local (having turned his back on his family’s shipping business legacy), in the process, recognizing the collective yearnings of my people? And you don’t include anything here about being a Kennedy.

  4. V.I.P. Referee says:

    Studio LOFT in TriBeca. More space to express angst (over such a painful personal history) in.

  5. Bill says:

    Oddly enough, and this is pretty odd, I’ve been reading (as you know) a lot of plays recently. Also, oddly, many of them seem to be plays that were first produced at Steppenwolf. Of them, for example, Love-Lies-Bleeding by Don DeLillo, Rabbit Hole by David Lindsay-Abaire, Rain Dance by Lanford Wilson, and Darwin in Malibu by Crispin Wittell: all could have been written using this flowchart. I don’t know what that means, except that, I think, all of these plays would have been better if you’d written them. Especially the Lanford Wilson play.

  6. Moff says:

    OK, this is fucking wonderful. There was never any doubt that you should get paid for writing. In fact, there was negative doubt. Now there’s even more; negative doubt.

    Which is a positive thing.

  7. […] write plays for a living? Want fame and fortune? Braak made a flowchart for […]

  8. Erin says:

    Aren’t you supposed to be working on another novel?

  9. braak says:

    @VIP: “Kennedy” is, in fact, an Irish name.

    @Erin: Hey, I just thought of something: shut up.

  10. Erin says:

    Touche, Braak. Touche.

  11. V.I.P. Referee says:

    Channel that pain, Braak. Make it dance for you–dance, dance…dance…!

    Kennedy IS an Irish name, but it’s not like the ladies-who-lunch don’t consider artists “the help”, anyway. “Grey Gardens” is on Broadway, haven’t you HEARD?

  12. braak says:

    The best part is after my John Henry play wins all kinds of fancy Tony awards and like that, and folks will interview me and say, “What’s next for you, Chris Braak?”

    And I’ll say, “I have a really good idea for a Freddy Kreuger movie.”

  13. motherloadshow says:

    Found this flow chart on Unattributed, by the way.

    I am very disheartened at how completely accurate, and even useful, this chart is.

    Dead on.

  14. braak says:

    Well, it looks like it’s been making some kind of rounds, and so it was probably pretty easy to lose track of where it came from. I won’t hold it against Mr. Daisey.

    Soon enough, of course, I will have the body of American Literary Managers calling for my head, either on a platter, or potentially some kind of spike.

    As for the rest: yeah. Yeah, it is kind of disheartening.

  15. Mead says:

    Are you kidding? Show me a literary manager and I’ll show you someone who hopes never to read another zombie play so long as s/he lives.
    Lit Managers will pass your chart all over the galaxy (I just did). Next think you know you’ll be power pointing at this summer’s LMDA conference.

    Oh, and……thanks.

  16. John says:

    Oh man. I don’t even LIKE zombies. How did that happen?

  17. threatqualitypress says:

    Zombies are hot right now. I used to like zombies, but my fascination peaked a couple years ago when I saw Macbeth Re-Arisen, which was a sequel to Macbeth that was actually Army of Darkness. They mostly cobbled it together from other Shakespeare plays, so it really sounded like an Elizabethan zombie apocalypse play.

    After that, I thought to myself, “Okay, done with zombies.” If no one is going to use zombies for what they’re for, then they’re not really interesting when you put them in things.

    Knowing how Irony works, I imagine the general public is going to be disillusioned with zombies just in time for the film version of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to be a horrible financial decision.

  18. Jason Grote says:

    Shit, this is really good, and dead-on. Kudos.

  19. […] they’re waiting, perhaps they can study the inspirational flowchart in “How to write for the American Theater”. Thanks to that, I’m already thinking of a musical based on my Uncle Jemima’s struggle […]

  20. […] ever-entertaining Threat Quality Press blog posted this flowchart entitled “How to Write for the American Theater.” Go Zombies! Share and […]

  21. […] contemporaries, but really were contemporaries, meeting each other and talking about things (see my chart; in this case:  Sigmund Freud and Salvador Dali).  I don’t know if Zizka has a thing about […]

  22. Demiurge says:

    Wow. This is great. I’m reading plays for the playwrights unit for my theatre, and the BIG IMPORTANT PLAY that they’re producing is the “senile matriarch revealing terrible secrets” trope. I actually injured myself yawning. And this is a hot playwright! Three productions in LA all at once, and writes for a TV show.
    It’s all about being hard-working, as it turns out, and writing a lot. That’s a hard truth.

  23. Valeria says:

    Just found your blog at yahoo and love it! Thank you.

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