BWW Blog: No One in Your Area is Producing The Show You Want? Produce It Yourself!
I am fortunate enough to have grown up in a rich theatre community full of opportunities at every turn. Still, though, I found myself refreshing audition notice pages waiting for that special show to appear so I would finally get my chance at whatever dream role I was fixated on at that time. We've all been there. After years of disappointment-filled waiting, I made a decision that would change the trajectory of my life. I decided to produce it myself. I encourage you to do the same thing. I know what you're thinking: "I don't know anything about producing a show," "I don't have the resources to produce a show," or "even if I could produce my own show, I wouldn't even know where to start." I'm still in the learning process myself, but I'd like to share some tips on how to get started and prepare yourself for a successful and fun production.
1. Get The Basic Funds Together
Nothing can happen until you have the funds, so the first place to start is always by raising money. If you're not sure how to do that, my biggest advice is to put that passion to work! Find something you're passionate about, whether that is music, visual arts, or even cooking, and use it to make a profit. In my case, I set up a Gofundme with a starting goal of $300 to cover the cost of renting a space, buying concessions, and the factors involved in putting on a concert, with the hope that the concert itself would bring in even more money. Then, I started the process of planning the actual concert.
2. Reach Out To Friends For Their Involvement
If you are in theatre, chances are you've got some pretty creative friends. Reach out to your fellow musicians, performers, and visual artists, and see if they are willing to donate their talents to your cause! Not only do they represent young talent in your community, but they each have their own support system who will come cheer them on. The more people you have involved, the more people (and potential donors) you will have in your audience. Remember, this doesn't have to be Broadway-level, just enough to show your community that you are passionate and serious about making your dream a reality.
3. Find An Affordable Space
This might be the trickiest step. Luckily, almost anything can be made into a performance space. Reach out to family, friends, and social media to find a cheap or free space to rent for a night for a fundraising concert, or whatever form of fundraiser you are doing. Great places to start are churches, community spaces, or even your own backyard. This is a great example of the importance of networking. Establishing rapport with a person or an organization is crucial to making a name for yourself, and making connections with people who have space available is a great place to start!
4. Secure the Necessary Equipment
My biggest advice here is to remember that this performance is intended to raise money, not spend it. If possible, aim for a space that already has lighting and sound equipment available to you, or perform in an intimate space that doesn't require it. Technical equipment can get spendy, and the less you spend now, the more you have to put toward your future production.
5. Start Rehearsing!
Once you've got the logistics all worked out, it's time to start rehearsing! Your own house is a great place for this since it is low cost. Make sure you have all the necessary equipment such as a keyboard or rehearsal tracks, as well as enough room for your band to rehearse together, with the cast, and in the space before the actual performance.
6. Promote, Promote, Promote!
The goal of a fundraiser show is to make money, and you can't do that without having butts in seats. So, pull out all the stops. Flood your social media with promotion for the show and encourage your cast to do the same. Make posters (nothing fancy-- remember, you're on a budget) and post them around your town. You could also offer discounted tickets for students. Pro tip: cheap tickets appeal to student audiences, plus you can use this as promotional material (ie. "tickets are only $5!). If you are pre-selling tickets online, do research on what online platform will take the smallest percentage of your ticket sales so you can keep as much of your proceeds as possible.
7. Put The Show On Its Feet!
The day has come!! Make sure you have everything ready. Double check that you have an appropriate amount of seats set up, concessions have been purchased, and you have volunteers to run ticket sales and concessions. As the director, I recommend making a speech either before or after the show stating your gratitude and expressing the importance of supporting young artists. This speech shows the people in the audience that it is WORTH supporting young artists and that their money is going to a great cause. This will also encourage people to make free-will donations.
I hope this helps you navigate the first steps in producing your first show! While this only the beginning of the process, it's an important place to start. And to tell you the truth, if you have the passion and drive to make it this far, you can make it all the way through the process. Remember, this will be frustrating and there will be lots of road blocks along the way; don't let it hold you back. You are the future of the theatre industry and you can do whatever you put your mind to. With that, happy producing!