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Saturday, January 03, 2015

So You're Producing a Play...

First, CALM DOWN! Let's walk through it together

If you've just signed up or volunteered to produce a play - you are in for a ride - and a treat!

Many companies will view "producing" differently. I have worked with theatre companies who have assigned the producer to look after budgets and make sure no one is overspending. I have also worked with a company who wanted the producer to worry about all the paperwork for the production including posters, programs, tickets and advertising. Often being a producer entails working with budgets and monies for the show including theatre rentals, rights applications and honorariums/actor pay. All companies are different so make sure you know what is expected of you so you can meet and exceed these. 
As a producer, some or all of the following duties may be left up to you. Go through this list to make sure you or someone else is looking after it. Having a list on hand with a list of duties assigned to individuals is also a great way to encourage accountability in your cast & crew.
  • Theatre rentals: payment for the stage, rules and regulations of the theatre need to be communicated to cast & crew.
  • Rights/Royalties: for script (paid through publisher of the script usually [ie. Samuel French].
  • Auditions: Dates, times, location, press release, organization (group auditions vs. monologs).
  • Callbacks: Call/email actors after auditions to let them know whether they have been cast or not cast (it is a common courtesy to call either way so that they know for sure one way or the other and aren't left sitting on pins and needles waiting to know if they got a part or not)
  • Schedules: rehearsals, theatre move-in day(s), technical rehearsals, dress rehearsal, fight warm-ups & drills (if necessary), call times before shows, strike (stage clean-up after last show).
  • Paper Stuffs: Use/Select/Create an image that you can use on all paper products regarding the show. This will ensure people associate the production with the image so by the third or fourth time they see the image, they remember what production it is and won't want to miss it! Paper stuffs may include: posters, hand bills, tickets and programs. Media releases and teaser/trailers are also a great way to get word out about your production.
  • Contact Information: It is important to always have on site of rehearsals a copy of everyone's contact information (often the stage manager will take care of this). In addition, email everyone a digital copy via email.
  • Crew Members - Get people on your team to take on these roles: Director, Producer, Stage Manager, Assistant Stage Manager (if needed), Stagehands, Makeup, Set Design, Tech [hanging, setting and running lights and sound], Costumes & Props.
  • Production Meetings: Scheduled once a month during the rehearsal process (or less/more depending on what is agreed upon by the crew and team) to discuss budget, media, promotion, etc. At the first meeting, delegate tasks to members of the team. You might be tempted to control everything and do everything yourself - DON'T! You'll burn yourself out and be of no use to anyone in no time at all.
  • Social Media: This is SO IMPORTANT in creating awareness for your production! Create Facebook events for auditions and showtimes, a Facebook group for the production team and another group for cast members. Twitter or Twitpic are both great for sending quick updates about what is happening at rehearsals. If people care about the actors, care about the production and feel like they are a part of it - they are more likely to buy a ticket. Use social media platforms to create games or contests where people can interract with members of the cast or crew for a chance to win tickets. This is great promotion!
  • Budget: Before anything is paid for or purchased, the production team need to agree upon a budget. This amount will include monies set aside for: theatre & equipment rentals, fight/dance choreographers, photographers, voice coaches, set design, honorariums/payments to cast/crew, promotional material, tickets to be printed, set and costume, makeup, etc. MAKE SURE EVERYONE WHO BUYS ANYTHING KEEPS THEIR RECEIPTS*COLLECT THEM AND KEEP THEM TOGETHER*
As this role is so versatile, do some digging and find out how others do it. Some resources can be found here: http://produceaplay.com/home, http://www.wikihow.com/Produce-a-Play, http://www.writewords.org.uk/articles/theatre1.asp, http://www.ehow.com/how_7732969_produce-stage-plays.html
You are not alone. You have (or should have) an entire team to help, guide and support you through this process. Encourage your team to have open communication with each other (this does not mean gossip). Ensure everyone is on the same page throughout production and don't hesitate to lean on each other or ask for their assistance. If you do find yourself hesistating to approach members of your team, try and uncover the reasons for this as a conversation may need to happen to discuss expectations and working as a team.
So many people overlook this one but it is so important. It is easier to be a drill sargeant, yelling orders at people telling them what to do and when than to lead a team. Be firm but approachable, encourage teamwork and open communication and don't forget to let loose and have some fun!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Drama Games & Activities for Kids, Teens & Adults PART 2

Theatre Games, Activities & Trust Exercises for Kids, Teens & Adults [PART 2]
Before you can play, rehearse, learn or build a production/performance - you need to build trust. 
These activities are some of my personal favourites whether I'm working with children, teenagers or adults in pairs or groups.
Before starting any activity - always state the purpose of the exercise (ie. voice warm-up or letting go of inhibitions) and conduct a quick "check-in" with members. After introducing the activity, ask each participant to briefly express how they are feeling and the kind of day they had. This is important to do in order to have a sense of everyone's mind space before starting. If someone had a bad day, they might not be as energetic or enthused where someone having a great day may have difficulties focusing and paying attention.
I hope these games and activities will help you in building trust amongst team members, classmates or a production cast & crew.
#7. PROPS/ quick-thinking, creativity, imagination & thinking outside of the box
  • Form a circle either sitting on the floor or in chairs
  • Place one or two identical but random objects (ie. gloves or fridge magnets) in the center
  • Go around the circle having each person go up to the objects and use them in a scene as something else (ie. gloves as shoes)
  • Encourage everyone in the group to get up and approach the objects quickly and come up with something on the spot.
  • Change things up by having people get up and approach the objects in a random pattern rather than taking turns going around the circle.

#8. MYSTERY SHOPPER/ acting in the moment and using body language to express intent
  • This activity works best in pairs
  • Person A pretends to be a cashier at a store
  • Person B portrays a customer
  • B approaches the counter and speaks to the cashier about purchasing a specific item
  • THERE'S A CATCH! - B can only speak in gibberish
  • A needs to try and understand what it is B is looking for
  • The scene is over when A correctly guesses the item and cashes the customer out
#9. WALK! WALK! WALK!/ situational comedy, group work, imagination and warm-up
  • In this activity, the entire group follows one leader
  • TECHNIQUE #1: the Leader walks around the room and everyone else copies their walk
  • TECHNIQUE #2: the Leader specifies that everyone should walk like someone or something (ie. the Terminator or a duckling)
  • TECHNIQUE#3: the Leader asks the group to walk around the room as if they are walking on a specific surface (ie. glass, ice or fire)
  • In all these instances, the leader could be a student, group member or instructor
#10. FORTUNATELY-UNFORTUNATELY/ teamwork, pairs & improve
  • Divide the group into pairs
  • The scene begins with one person starting a sentence with "Fortunately...."
  • The second person responds by saying a sentence starting with "Unfortunately..."
  • The scene continues with one person always saying "Fortunately" at the beginning of everything they say and the other person always saying "Unfortunately"
  • After awhile, switch up who says which word
  • (ie. "Fortunately, I caught the bus on time." "Unfortunately, the bus got a flat tire." etc.)
#11. BETWEEN THE LINES/ writing exercise, self-exploration, trust-building & group support
  • This exercise requires each individual to have a notebook or scrap paper and something to write with AND music that can be played helps in creating a safe atmosphere
  • Have everyone sit someone in the room in their own space
  • Each person has the length of one song to write a note or letter than is specified by the instructor.
  • These may include: Things I Like, Dear Self, I'm Afraid of..., I Wish, I Hate, I'm Sorry..., etc.
  • As soon as the instructor delivers the starting line or subject, the song is started and the participants have until the end of the song to write.
  • Encourage everyone to continue writing until the song ends.
  • This is a great exercise to get people out of their minds and opening up to others
  • Writing in a way that is not "judged", or checked for grammar or ideas of right & wrong is freeing. Ensure everyone feels safe to write away without holding back.
  • This is a "rambling on" activity done with a pen instead of talking
 #12. SNAKE/ touching, trust, body movement & body language
  • Establish a starting point and finish line (ie. this wall to that line or vice-versa)
  • Have the participants form a line
  • The first person touches the starting line with their body somehow and creates a shape with their body
  • The next person touches the first person somehow and creates another shape that is different in levels, shape, silhouette, etc.
  • This continues until a person on the "snake" touches the finish line
  • This can be done with small groups and the last person leap-frogs to the front when it is their turn again
  • CHANGE THINGS UP - give the participants a word they can use as inspiration for their shapes (ie. water, fire, monkey, Summer, etc.)
(coming soon)