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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » Need Theater Theatre Show Help (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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878 Posts

Profile of Marqus
I didn't know where to post this, so since it's a mentalism act, it's going here.

I need some help so that I can take my first steps for seeing my show performed at a local community theater/theatre. But I don't want to go into this venture looking like an idiot.

I've been performing for over 25-30 years, so I am a seasoned performer.

The problem I need help with is this:
In my mind, I have a whole evening performance developed.

But how do I approach the theatre/theater?

Who do I ask to see?

Should I have the whole show written out like a screenplay?

Why would whomever want to see me?

I have ideas for (minimal) large set decoration props. Who funds that?

I have Big Daddy Cool's Theater book but I need more info.

Anyone have any helpful information?

Philemon Vanderbeck
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Inner circle
Seattle, WA
4485 Posts

Profile of Philemon Vanderbeck
It's been my experience that most theatres are more than happy to rent their space out to you. Of course, you may have to work around the shows that they've already scheduled. Some theatres produce their own shows; others are strictly rental houses. However, most likely you'll be in charge of producing your own show with minimal help from the theatre itself. Some theatres will require you to use their technical people (for which you pay their usual salary); others will allow you to bring in your own qualified people. All these terms will be spelled out in the contract you sign with them. You'll be responsible for your own publicity and filling the seats. You're basically four-walling the entire event.

Regardless of the size of the show or the venue, it's always a good idea to write out a script.

If you've never produced a show before, you may be way over your head. It might be best for you to either take some classes in theatre production at your local community college, or volunteer to work with a community theatre and get an idea of how a show is produced behind the scenes (or ideally, do both). A full stage show is not something to be taken lightly or in the same vein as your typical parlor show. You're going to need a staff/company of people to help you pull this off, who need to share your vision, and who will need to be paid for their time and efforts.
Professor Philemon Vanderbeck
That Creepy Magician
"I use my sixth sense to create the illusion of possessing the other five."
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Regular user
Las Vegas
188 Posts

Profile of KBLV
Another way to go is to find a local theater that produces an annual New Plays Festival. They will often pick up the production expenses if they choose your show.

In any case, the person you need to contact is the Artistic Director of the theater company.
David Alexander
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623 Posts

Profile of David Alexander
You're thinking like the theater will pay to produce your show and pay you to do it. Without a reputation and known management that's unlikely. They will probably be happy to rent you their space so you can Four Wall it yourself.

In other words, you finance everything and are your own producer, director, set designer, publicist, and performer. Unless you hire others which will cost.

I'm assuming that ALL your material is audience-tested, timed, blocked, and that you are extremely comfortable performing it with a high level of confidence in front of large paying audiences.

Writing a script is a good idea as is testing it out in "previews" in places where you are unlikely to be seen by those to whom you'll later want to sell tickets. "Out of town tryouts" are very handy for learning where your problems are and fixing them.

You did not define what your experience is so I will make this observation: there is a huge difference between being a close-up magician who does strolling magic and doing a full evening theatrical show. The are different skill sets.

Be sure your experience matches your ambition and your wallet won't take a beating.

Best of luck.
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Southern California
739 Posts

Profile of sgrossberg
Marquis - I have had a number of items produced at the local and regional levels. Very simply, if you think your show is that good, find out who runs the production company and make an appointment to speak with them. You mentioned this is a local, community theatre group. They are likely looking for something new and entertaining. However, bear in mind that the show needs to make money unless it is being subsidized by the City and/or local businesses (which is unlikely in this economic time). Usually, community theatre groups rely on recognizable plays (read that "family musicals") to bring in both actors (who are not paid) and patrons (who pay modest ticket prices and help support the group through concessions).

I doubt you will be paid anything up front. However, if the show is successful (and this means the theatre group is going to make a profit, first), perhaps they will work out some deal with you. Remain flexible. Perhaps you can provide a short run show and, among other deal points, get the right to film the show and use it for advertising and marketing.

As someone who has directed and produced shows, I am a bit concerned about your question "Why would they want to see me?" If you can't answer that fundamental question, I'm not sure it's time to speak with someone about the show. If you and I were sitting down, you would need to sell me on the viability (entertainment value and marketability) before we could proceed further. Fill me with excitement about the project and help me envision a packed house. Help me to understand how your show should replace Rogers & Hammerstein or Little Shop of Horrors.

As far as sets, the theatre group likely has sets that it can either reuse or modify. Your vision may be grand, but may be limited by fly space, personnel and costs. I anticipate that, if your show is agreed to by the group, the theatre company would pay for and fabricate the sets. Those would be the property of the theatre group and not yours to use unless you purchase them later on for other venues.

Most importantly, just be a normal human being when you speak with the theatre group. Most community theatre people have other jobs and other interests. They do what they do out of passion and fun. Most - not all - local groups are not hardcore business people. Most operate in the red and are always looking for fundraising concepts (which might be a way to sell your concept, as well, and get your foot in the door).

Also, do your research on the local group. Find out what types of plays and productions they have produced in the past. You don't need a formal script for your show. But you do need to know how your concept is congruent with the theatre company's focus.

I think the biggest challenge you face when it comes to a community theatre group is "control." I have pitched shows before and have mandated that I be the director. That was a deal breaker for me and the theatre at one particular location because there was an in-house director for "everything" and he was not willing to let me do the show. I moved on to another location and it was not a problem. If you are willing to be the "entertainer/actor" and allow the existing director for the group's shows direct you, that might be an additional selling point. If, however, you want to do everything yourself and simply want the theatre company to fund your vision, you might have some challenges. If the latter situation is what you want, the comments, above, serve you well.

Hope that helps. Enjoy your adventure. And . . . break a leg. - Scott
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Profile of Marqus
THANK YOU all for the information.

I did expect that I'd be wearing all the hats - producer, director, set designer, publicist, and performer - just wanted to make sure. I have a background in graphic design & marketing.

I performed on stages with up to 600+ in attendence so I can handle the audience.
The scripts are all written out but the blocking segments and set design are still in my head.

When I said "Why would they want to see me?", I actually meant getting my foot in the door & seeing the main person (who KBLV says is the Artistic Director); I can sell them on why anyone would want to see me.

I'm not so much looking to make money. My main objective is getting exposure.

Once again, I am very grateful for all of the above info.
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Westchester, NY
965 Posts

Profile of Rocketeer
Some random thoughts:

Since you're doing it for the exposure rather than the money consider making it a benefit for a local charity. This could help you gather "sponsors" like a local radio station on which you'll appear, do some radio effects and have tickets to give away to lucky callers.

If you go the benefit route it will be easier to convince local businesses to let you put small posters in their display windows. Promise you'll thank them with an "honor roll" of sponsors in the theater lobby.

Have a GREAT website and an INCREDIBLY good printed press kit. Make sure you visit EVERY newspaper within 20 miles PERSONALLY at least three weeks before the show.

There's a lot more than just this but it should set the wheels in your head in motion.

I'm selling my hardcover autographed limited edition copy of Jerome Finley's "Thought Veil"

PM me for info.
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Profile of Marqus

Thanks for your input & for looking down another avenue.
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