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Topic: Finding theatre showcases to book your show?
Message: Posted by: w_s_anderson (Dec 2, 2009 11:40AM)
Hello All!

I was curious as to what you all do to get your show into the "tall grass" theatres. A few years ago I booked the Elsinore Theatre in Salem Oregon. It was a wonderful venue. The downside was that I had to pay for everything: Advertising, tickets, rental, ect. I ended up paying close to 6 grand just to do the show when all was said and done. I didn't even start to turn a profit until the day of the show. Luckily we sold most of the tickets at the door and made out with a decent check, but nowhere near what a corporate gig gets me. The theatre manager told me that he goes to showcases to book the shows that the theatre pays for. I have looked all over the internet but haven't found any place that talks about these showcases. Does anyone know about these, and how to get a spot on one? Thanks again!!

Message: Posted by: videokideo (Dec 2, 2009 12:01PM)
Showcases are typically a catalog of independent shows that are available to theaters and colleges without the use of agents. Our college would literally receive a catalog of shows to book....some that are showcased and some with agents. The big names normally used agents, where the independents like yourself would be showcased as available upon request.

Not real sure how you put yourself in the showcase. Ive never checked into it as Ive found the acts with the agent normally lands the gig. Maybe that theater manager can point you to the showcase he uses.

If I understood right, a showcase typically comes out of a big agency with tons of acts to offer. Those only being showcased are normally part time independent performers that agents cant make enough money on, so instead of focusing on them, they showcase them. Might look into large agencys. Stop by a college... they usually have these showcase catalogs on file.

I also know there is a weekend showcase in vegas every year where performers sell themselves in person at a trade show. Its a live version of a catalog.
Message: Posted by: rtgreen (Dec 3, 2009 10:33AM)
Hi Scott,

Here is a book I've found helpful. It focuses mostly on touring bands, but it covers theater negotiations really well.


Take care!
Message: Posted by: David Garrity (Dec 3, 2009 11:06AM)
There is also http://www.artspresenters.org/

Message: Posted by: RJE (Dec 3, 2009 11:19AM)
Colleges and universities in Canada have a showcase convention where the reps from each school attend to shop for talent for their school events.

Typically theatres in Canada are approached by the intended user. Tours looking to fill dates, specialty acts looking for venues, agents wanting to book their clients etc...

Some theatres will let you book the theatre on your own, at cost, as you have discovered and this can be very risky. Some theatres will not rent themselves out to acts or agents that want to book themselves in. Others may book you direct and simply pay you an agreed upon fee.

Many theatres deal with a select agent or group of agents to provide the shows for them. If you are not a part of this, then you do not get in. The agent or group of agents, submit what is available to the theatre for their consideration.

At times, one theatre will approach others to share a show. For instance, someone like Kreskin may be asked by Theatre A to do a show, but Theatre A does not have the capacity to seat enough people to make it worthwhile for Kreskin to make an appearance there. So, Theatre A approaches a number of other theatres in the not too distant region to see if they would like to book Kreskin to do a show around that time as well. If enough theatres go for it, then Kreskin has a mini tour set up for him.

Other times, a theatre will tie into a circuit. In Ontario, there is the "Rama" circuit. Casino Rama will bring in some large named acts from past or present and there will be a number of other theatres in southern Ontario that will pick up performance dates with the act to coincide with their being here.

As to a central showcase, it doesn't exist here (in Ontario, Canada) as far as I have seen. Shows are pitched and bought at the theatres discretion. Getting in with an agent or manager who does this kind of pitching would be your best bet.
Message: Posted by: w_s_anderson (Dec 3, 2009 01:24PM)
Thanks guys, you all have been a big help!! Now I just need to find a manager from the Northwest....
Message: Posted by: chmara (Dec 4, 2009 10:57AM)
I have two thoughts here -- one is on finding venues -- one is on FILLING venues. And they run together in an idea that is based on sales ideas accented by John Kaplan.

In finding venues for a free standing show if you are promoting it yourself and selling each seat is very expensive and NOT conducive to one night stands -- unless you use a system that pre-sells shows by using a barn-burner reputation and ticket selling mechanism that is in your face for the public. And, we are speaking
"campaign" not one or two ads. Think of yourself as a small circus.

A second idea that allies itself is this -- to afford the campaign John Kaplan suggests you use a local sponsor to manage ticket sales, venue set-up, etc. Splitting the revenue with them motivates them -- and in his system you cannot lose money even if they fail to fill the house.

How to accomplish this? THE FIRST THING YOU WILL LEARN is NOT to sell a magic show. You sell the BENEFITS of a show appearing at that time and place - to the sponsor and customer alike.

Here's what I mean -- if you do not have a sponsor - you can sell the venue owner on a filled productive date of an otherwise empty hall. Instead of a fee -- motivate with ticket share (even though many houses already have this in.)

If you are trying to get a sponsor -- sell them THEIR ability to raise money and awareness for a very low fee for a reputable show.

Generally unless you are a Copperfield, Angel, Kreskin or Penn & Teller -- your clients and audience most often care less about magic than "what can you do for me?" Being a skilled magician with a show that helps them fulfill their dream/goal is a strong selling point.

In other words - take the focus off you and the show for a bit -- and put the spotlight on what you can do for them.
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Jan 6, 2010 10:36AM)
I received an inquiry to showcase my show at an annual event of entertainment agents. I sent an pitch first. I know nothing about showcases but was invited this coming March. It is a long drive and still considering it. It is just for the state I live in. My act consist entirely of audience participation so just wondering how this can benefit me. Any help much appreciated.

Message: Posted by: Autumn Morning Star (Jan 7, 2010 11:23PM)
Do all the research you can do on the showcase. Find out how long you have, to whom you are presenting, and what the costs and limitations are. Be prepared!

Consider your target audience and present the strongest material you have. If you are limited on time [likely] present your best and try to have a beginning, middle and end. Do not run over your time limit! I am not sure how this will go over with a total audience participation act unless you have more time than the 7-15 minutes most showcases allow, IF you acutally get onstage. Not all acts get to perform at most showcases. Sometimes, you only get to represent yourself in a booth. Usually, there are fees involved. You can see that you need a lot of answers to these questions [and more] before you head out to do this showcase.

Also, check out the agency or agents that invited you. Check out the showcase. Some of these 'showcases' are really a sham, where the 'agents' end up using your talents to entertain an audience for free. There should be a good bit of history online about your showcase.

If everything is in order, be sure you have good publicity material on hand to distribute.