The origin of the play, "Chump Changes" was a brief article in the Washington Post back in the early 90's. If I'm remembering correctly (a significantly BIG "if" -- 15 years later) the organization ARTS DC (sort of a mash-up between DC Commission on the Arts & the Mayor's Summer Youth Jobs program) was looking for a script for, and about, young people that dealt with topical issues such as teen pregnancy, truancy, poverty, substance abuse, crime, violence, homelessness, drugs, unemployment, HIV/AIDS, etc.
Although I was many decades past being a youth -- or even youthful -- I was frequently around teens and young people enough to be fairly familiar with their concerns, conversations and culture.
I figured I had nothing to lose by taking a stab at the opportunity. Under the naive misimpression that they were actually looking for what they requested, I decided to write a fairly frank and realistic script, one that was significantly more reflective of the actual lives of young people I knew, than I was used seeing depicted on stage.
Rather than write about just one of the problem issues listed in the article, I ambitiously devised a story and script that attempted to include all of them. In addition, I blithely added to this mix, candid depictions of teen sexuality and exploration, that included subjects such as homosexuality, bisexuality, promiscuity, masturbation, STD's, sex in youth correctional facilities,etc.
Needless to say, there was NO response to my submission. None. I was particularly discouraged after asking around and discovering that all the other unsuccessful playwrights had at least gotten rejection letters.
Guess I should have taken the hint. LOL.
It's kind of ironic that, out of the over 130 plays I've written to date, "Chump ChangeS" has had the longest life and garnered the most outside interest (if NOT a production) of all the rest. LOL. One further irony -- looking back at it through the lens of 2020, it seems remarkably tame, to me.
Mystified and discouraged that I hadn't even gotten any acknowledgement that my submission had been received (This was a long time --and MANY submissions and rejections, ago.) I stopped showing my work for awhile, thinking it might be too vulgar or raunchy. (I've clearly, since gotten over THOSE concerns, LOL)
I continued writing, reading plays by my favorite playwrights, books on playwrighting, and going to readings. Some of these readings were at the Playwright's Forum, a Metro DC writers' group lead by Ernie Joselovitz.
After attending a couple of the Forum readings of new plays, I got up my nerve, stuck the "Chump Changes" script in an envelope with a piece a notebook paper on which I'd placed two checkboxes.
On March 30, 1993, I was surprised to receive an envelope from Playwrights Forum, It contained my sheet of notebook paper, with one of the boxes checked. It also contained an insightful, detailed, single-spaced two-page critique of my script, along with a personal note from Ernie, who stays in touch and remains supportive, to this day..