I’m thankful to be able to share my top tips for producing one’s solo show.
1. Raise the funds via online crowdfunding.
2. Pick the venue and dates. Do the research, make the appointments, look at theatres…feel a lot of fear…and bite the bullet.
- When you put the deposit down on the venue, you’re taking a leap towards making your dream come true.
3. Find a producer or co-producer who is deeply responsible at least two-three months before the show opens. Do all you can to get someone else to do most or all of the producing.
- Ask a reliable theatre friend
- Put the word out on local theatre listservs
- Look on Craigslist and interview people
- (If you end up having to do most of the work like I did, you’ll still have your show. Either way, you’ll have your show.)
4. Choose the rest of your team, director first. Get designers, crew members, house manager, and PR person via:
- Email shout-outs
- Social media
- Listservs (In L.A.: email@example.com)
5. Create Letters of Agreement for every person you hire, detailing their job descriptions and stipends and any deadlines. Make sure you both sign the LoA.
- On your (co-)producer’s LoA, specify that s/he will not receive credit if s/he does not fulfill every task on the LoA. S/he’s got the biggest job and you don’t want to have to pick up his/her slack during
6. Get a friend to videotape the show so you can make a trailer and/or send copies of the whole shebang to festivals, booking agents, etc.
- People may stun you with their generous, voluntary support. My friend liked my show so much that he came back a second night with a student videographer and they both shot from different angles on great cameras. They did this for no money. I’m beyond grateful.
The Three Most Important Things I Learned During the Run of the Show:
1. Anyone you’ve hired who seems remotely flaky/odd/uninvested is flaky/odd/uninvested. Replace him/her ASAP, even if you’re convinced there’s no time/energy. At least try to.
2. A bad review in a respected periodical will not ruin ticket sales if word of mouth is good.
3. A bad review gave me the freedom to enjoy myself on stage because I no longer had any investment in impressing critics. (Of course actors should never be affected by who is in the audience, but when you’re also producing, it can be hard.) I knew the bad review meant that bigger periodicals wouldn’t see the show, and my secret dream of an Off Broadway eight-week run was dashed. But…
- The moment that I surrendered to the likelihood that the show would never tour because of the bad review, and I gave myself permission to just enjoy the remainder of the original run, I believe molecules shifted. I was doing the show for the right reason: I wanted to share the stories, period. The future was out of my hands all along, so I concentrated on the present. I’ve since felt that that allowed room for other possibilities. It might sound new-agey-lame…but it’s what I believe.
- In the end, I still took the show to NYC (a festival Off Off Broadway) and it has toured on the US college circuit, various conferences and festivals, and gone abroad to Panama, Iceland, Spain, and South Africa. It’s going to Singapore in April 2016 (expenses and artist’s fee paid).
- A combination of courage, surrender, and purity of intention led to many good things. This seems to be a theme in my life. Ralph Waldo Emerson was right, in my opinion.
BONUS: An inspirational blog post on how it’s possible to make a living as a solo show creator and coach:
- The Business of Solo Performance (sorry, it actually involves business) by Tanya Taylor Rubinstein
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