Infra-what? For a show? Always makes me think of bridges and telephone lines – which is exactly right if you’re thinking of a society, a town or a community – the underlying systems that allow it to function.
In this context I don’t mean the telephone in the foyer, I mean the underlying systems that need to be in place to allow the show to actually manifest, but happen beyond the stage. Actually, the telephone in the foyer is important! And the computer .. errr .. the front of House Manager .. oh, and the kettle. The person who will produce your show (might well be you, the director) needs to have a handle on the administration, marketing/publicity, creation of marketing materials, sponsorship, tour admin and transport (if applicable) and anything else you have a requirement for that isn’t actually on the stage! It is heartbreaking to put your heart and soul, half your life over the past year and a substantial amount of money into a show that nobody comes to see. Why don’t they? Because nobody told them it was on – doh!
So .. a quick check list of things you need to have in your plan. If you have a producer doing this for you, that’s great! Just check in occasionally to keep in touch with progress. All these things are really important! But try & delegate.
- Admin: Someone to deal with all aspects of administration would be luvverly… luvverly. But, I’ve never experienced it, so I’m just guessing. Should someone pop into an early rehearsal/meeting and say ‘Hi, I’m an administrator – need any help?’, jump on them quickly and make them sign a legally binding contract. Then, hopefully, they’ll do loads of stuff on this list and you’re free to direct! If someone offers to be your producer act in the same manner and hopefully they’ll do loads of things on this list. In someone just wanders in one day and offers a spot of help … you know what to do.
- Performing Rights: Apply for these before you start rehearsing. Most publishers don’t require payment immediately, but you do need to start the process off so they are aware of you AND so you know that the rights are actually available
- Sponsorship: Something to think about early on. Having discovered how much the performing rights are, you might want to consider getting some local sponsorship. If you do make sure they get lots of mentions in publicity material, website etc. In my experience it’s a good idea to ask for a specific amount and be clear about what you’re offering in return (get a ‘package’ together). So, very important that you have this in the bag before you go to print with flyers, posters & programmes!
- Rehearsal Space: I can’t count the number of times this has been a problem! Usually one I wasn’t aware of until I’m arguing with someone who was certain they’d booked the space and, no they didn’t notice my name in the ‘rehearsal space book’ (more than once because it hasn’t been there to be honest – oh, for a good administrator..) Find alternative spaces & make good arrangements with your cast. That’s another thing I can’t count – the number of people turning up to my rehearsal when they should be at someone else’s in a different location! Maybe I just can’t count …
- Publicity: Now we’re getting pretty serious. Crucial stuff! Not that the rest isn’t, but no publicity … no audience. Get someone on the case at the very beginning. There are heaps of innovative and great ways to publicise your show – I like to blog (surprise!) But you need to tailor your publicity to your show/area/town/theatre etc. Get the ideas flowing as soon as you can. Try and involve the cast in your plans as well – they will bring a lot of your audience in (especially if they like the way things are going!)
- Publicity Materials: Think about what you want and plan the timing of it so you get everything printed & ready at the right time. Posters and flyers are your paper ambassadors for the show so don’t do it on the cheap (don’t photocopy unless the quality is very good). Think about the affect the flyer/poster will have on the person looking at it. If I see a badly constructed flyer using cheesey clipart and 28 different fonts I wonder whether I actually want to see the show… it doesn’t look professional or interesting and certainly not enticing. What about the image for the poster – photo or illustration? Who will do it? Find this out early on otherwise you’ll end up with a panic job! Get it designed well – it’s worth it.
- Photographer: A real treat. It is nice to have good photos after the event for your scrapbook or album, but they are wonderful for publicity and to whet the audience’s appetite beforehand. Good pics though – not photos of actors gazing blankly in a line while someone snaps a quick photo in lighting conditions reminiscent of my grandmother’s living room (good for that attractive ‘bleached’ look). Get action shots! Atmospheric shots. If necessary plan a photoshoot (at least 4 weeks before the first night so you have time to use them effectively) – work it in so you get good costume shots with lighting and maybe a few bits of set. Great for blogging purposes as well.
- Exhibition/Display Space: You’ll want your groovy pics up during the run of the show – but maybe you can get some up beforehand? In town maybe – shop window? I find that when I get near to the first night I start to run out of time and energy for these ‘extra’ things. If you can find someone to organise displays – jump on them and get them to sign a legally binding contract …..
- Front of House: Not your responsbility – hooray! Just make sure you, your producer and/or stage manager liaise with FoH so they’re in the picture.
That’s a lot to be going on with!
Onwards to Offbeat Directing 8: The Comfort Zone