Happy Friday peeps! It’s time to get down to the nitty gritty with the first of our D.I.Fri sessions. D.I.Fri is all about helping those who want to create an event, but are not quite sure where to start. Following the theme of the month, we’re going to be providing you with handy tips and tricks to help your event be the best it can be.
Let’s kick it off by discussing our first D.I.Fri: What should I consider when creating a show?
All arts lovers will understand the importance of creating your own work in a highly saturated market. If you’ve only ever been on one side of the industry (either as a performer, or an active audience member), it can be tricky to know where to start! It may seem a little overwhelming at first, but it is perfectly doable.
The first thing you need to establish is whether you would like your work to be self devised, or whether it is a production that has already been created. Both are perfectly acceptable answers having different routes.
Today, let’s discuss the idea that you may be interested in recreating a pre-existing piece. Here are some things you might want to consider when it comes to the practicalities that need to be put in place:
Is it the right group?
Casting can be a sticky spot for some companies. If you’re an aspiring amateur dramatics group, finding local performers that will be able to do a successful job whilst being reliable in rehearsals can be a tough job, but as it’s all for fun there is a lot more leniency. It’s worth thinking about how to create a buzz in your local area to get the word out to get people involved and bums on seats. Perhaps you have a local magazine or radio station where they wouldn’t mind sharing the information, or even sponsoring your next production. Clever marketing can help push your show much further, and any help with funding will of course be appreciated.
If you’re a smaller professional company that is just starting out, and assuming you are intending to pay your actors, you can be as flexible with casting as you choose.
The best tip I can offer for casting, is to remember that you are going to have to be spending the next few weeks/months with these people, so the group dynamic needs to be equally weighted in terms of getting on with each other. It’s all well and good casting John from round the corner to play your pantomime Dame in your next production, but if you can sense he’s going to be a diva then it might take a bit of objective consideration.
Is it the right show?
Some theatre companies or amateur dramatics groups might have a tricky brief to fit in terms of ‘male’ to ‘female’ ratios, but some but this is solvable with a little bit of organised thinking and research into different possibilities. A good way to find quick casting breakdowns is in the book <INSERT BOOK TITLE HERE>, which provides a quick insight to cast numbers and ratios. Consider the outcome you would like from your production; whether you want to play it as written, or play around with artistic licence. There’s nothing wrong with theatrical casting techniques such as multi-roling, colour-blind casting, or gender-blind casting for example, but this needs to be established as an artistic choice, rather than a shoehorned “solution” for the sake of practicality. Most audiences will be able to spot this from very far away, and it could cause a disconnect with the story itself.
Is it the right time?
Although some productions may seem very popular, it would appear that oversaturating an audience with one specific play can be a tiresome way to exhaust your potential audience. It’s worth recognising if the production has been produced in the nearby vicinity recently. If Romeo and Juliet is a play you’ve been desperate to put on since the beginning of time, but it has also been produced in 3 nearby towns in the last 2 months, it might be worth thinking about the practicalities of this. The best suggestion is to read as much as possible, both classic texts and new writing pieces. There are some fantastic pieces of work out there at the moment that haven’t yet been performed by upcoming writers, so it’s well worth networking and reaching feelers out where possible. Networking is key!
Is it the right space?
Using Romeo and Juliet as an example again, it is a brilliant play well worth its salt, but it has been created time and time again in spaces that are just not well suited to the piece. When thinking about your show, it’s important to recognise what you want it to ideally look like. How much set are you planning to use, and how much performance space will this leave? Many productions I’ve seen in the past have had some large pieces of set which may look fantastic (or gimmicky in some cases) but limits the space for action which impacts the quality of a show that can’t be redeemable, no matter how impressive the set is. Similarly, I have seen productions in fantastic performance spaces with a seating capacity of over 200, but have only been able to bring in 12 audience members. This can be painful for the audience, the actors, and most of all -the pursestrings. If you have your own space, consider whether it is honestly feasible to tell this story on your stage. If you don’t have access to your own space, consider if it is worth the money to hire the space you are looking at, as some venues with bad reputations can try to rip you off! Consider the reputation of the space and whether this would benefit your production and vice versa. Research is key in this scenario, so it never hurts to do your homework.
Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to creating your work. However, hopefully this can answer, or even help spark discussions with your creative team about any possible obstacles along the way when creating your own company. The best way to learn is by talking to others, absorbing knowledge, and working together to thrive in a competitive environment.
Got something you’d like to share? Tell me your story at firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured as one of our Client Spotlights in the near future!