So Far

I’m gonna do my best to start throwing up some shorter blogs on the production experience. We are now at June 18th, and we’re very close to being on schedule and on budget. We’ve had to make some tough decisions, but all of the really hard decisions lay ahead of us. Let me just do a rough timeline.

February – Mac, who wrote the play, finished up his script for “VIRAL” and gave it to me and Jordana to read. I read it very, very fast, got really excited, got freaked out, got even more excited and then started thinking about some of the production problems. Jordana read it slowly three times, digested it, and immediately started envisioning its existence on stage.

That has worked out pretty well for us, when we really have specific jobs. There are times when I desperately want to play a role in Mac’s play, but when there’s no role for me, it’s really liberating. I love, LOVE, to think about how best to make the story work and then let the story happen with Mac and Jordana. That means, I read the script and my heart cracked and the sky opened… and then I started thinking “does she have to cook *eggs*? How many pieces of furniture actually *have* to be on stage? Do we need a sound designer, will we need a scrim?…”

We applied for the Fringe, and then Jordana and Mac went into re-writes and, of course, we started thinking about casting. For this show, the exciting thing is that we just didn’t have any idea who would be playing all the roles. For a lot of our smaller projects, we like to write *to* a group of actors. We’ve even, on occasion, listed the actors instead of the character names. This is only when we’re writing together for a a festival or something, when Mac writes on his own, he’s really crafting the show to fit in his own twisted mind. I’m sure he thinks about actors sometimes, but mostly he’s just making a warped world that matches the crazy voices in his head…

May – Once we found out we were accepted into the festival, we really started flying. In the past, we’ve spent a lot of time on conversations about the actual art of the play, but over the last ten years we’ve learned – those conversations happen and those questions are answered in rehearsal. Now, the minute we’re sure a production is happening, we go directly into meetings about financing and marketing. How much money do we have, and how are we gonna let people know about the show.

At this point, we’re all done being tricky. For Fleet Week, we had condoms with our logo at every bar downtown. For Air Guitar, we tried to tie in to the movie that was opening in the summer film festival. For Hail Satan, we talked to other religious groups, even getting damn near sued by the Church of Satan.

Now? Our marketing campaign is entirely about just letting people know we’re doing a play, that it’s written by this awesome crazy dude, and that we’re more than just producers, we’re fans of theater. This is part of a body of work, written by Mac and produced by us, that is gonna be fun to be a part of.

Then we had a couple of meetings about financing, and those meetings… suck. But again, after ten years, we’ve got a pretty good idea about how we’re doing this stuff. We do have a brand new idea this year, to hold a sort of fundraiser. It’s interesting, we go out with our theater friends and get drinks, or have dinner parties, and we all blow money while we sit around and talk about how hard it is to raise money for theater. It took Sandy, our newest production team member, to point out that we’re all going out on Saturday anyway, we’re all spending twenty bucks on drinks and food, we may as well host the thing and help pay for the show.

June – This month has been about assembling the team, and that includes casting. Our entire financial theory is basically this – we’re gonna lose money on the show, we all know that, so let’s try to pay *people* rather than junk. In other words, if we hire a lighting designer who’s really creative, we don’t have to rent expensive lights. If we hold rehearsals in free space, we can pay the cast a little better.

So, choosing the team is really one of the funnest parts of producing. It’s not so much trying to find a group of people who get what we’re doing, I don’t think we’re reinventing the wheel or anything, but it’s really awesome sitting down with someone who looks at the work as *fun*, like they’re excited about getting to make this particular play. Even with the darkest, strangest plays we’ve produced, it’s always fun when you get to the hard part and you hear the costume designer giggle. It’s not that people like making plays where bad things happen or where people get hurt, but the laughter is just nervous excitement.

I’m gonna write a whole post on casting tomorrow. We’ve got callbacks tonight, and we’re over the moon about the people coming in. We’ve *never* been in this position before, where we aren’t choosing the best actor, we’re choosing between a bunch of actors, all of whom are different shades of perfect, and we just have to see who works best with whom.

So that’s where we are today. Still assembling the team, and implementing the marketing plan. I’ll keep updating as we go. These posts are a little inorganic, but I wanted to get everything down and published. We just keep making plays, and I don’t know that we really have a system set down, so it’s interesting to me to look back on what we’re doing as we do it.