Years ago, I was working as an intern for a very prestigious theatre festival. I was the epitome of broke, and the only way to make money there, other than prostitution or drug dealing, was to be a preliminary reader for the entrants in the play competition.
They would give you a script and a form to fill out, rating the different areas of the play. Plot, diversity of cast, ability to actually be produced. The interns would decide if a play should get passed on to the second round where the actual play-judging people would finally read it themselves. And the interns would get paid a whopping ten dollars for their work.
I can’t remember the name of the first play I read or the playwright, but it was like a British farce set in a modern day Manhattan apartment. And instead of angry wives or IRS men running in and out the door causing trouble, it was drug dealers.
It was a new take on a timeless formula that had an easy set, diverse cast, and humor that audiences would understand. I turned in my form, saying that I thought the show should get through to the next round and was promptly fired. My taste was too plebeian. The show wasn’t artistic enough. Blablabla. I think the winner of the festival was something about child molesters that no theatre in their right mind would produce if they actually wanted to sell tickets. But it was artistic, so it won. And some intern passed that piece of deep meaningful poop on because they didn’t want to get fired from their bougey play reading gig.
Now here’s the thing. I’ve been working on submitting to agents, and some of the rejections or requests for more material have come from interns instead of agents. And it makes me wonder. Are these interns going to get fired for passing my plebeian work on to their bosses? Are some interns not passing on my queries because they’re afraid that anything YA with hints of dystopian or paranormal will get them fired? Even if my work is really right for what the agent is requesting?
But one thought burns clearer in my mind than the rest: Dear God, I hope they’re getting paid more than I did.