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This production is a completely different situation. We are in the midst of COVID 19. There are even fewer theaters in a position to explore a new work. Keeping social distancing means even fewer seats are available to put butts in. The bottom line is that in many cases it is more cost effective for a theater to sit empty than to underwrite a production that will, in all likelihood, not make back the cost of production.
So we are trying another avenue…
Ask any musical playwright/composer and they will tell you – getting your work on stage is a brutal, if not impossible challenge. There are far more playwright/composers than there are theaters, and those theaters are in show business…emphasis on BUSINESS. Any theater, let alone a small independent one, has to make money. And to make money, you have to, as they say, put butts in seats.
As much as a theater owner may like your work, he has to pay the lease on the theater, advertise, print tickets, programs and posters, pay the director, pay the musical director, if there is choreography pay the choreographer, pay backstage crews, lighting techs, and sound techs, pay the person selling the tickets, pay the ushers, pay a stage manager, build the sets, make the costumes, and of course, pay the playwright/composers. All of that takes money he has to make back off the production (butts in seats).
Many new playwright/composers, when first starting out end up having to mount the production on their own. That’s what my partner David Blanchard and I did. Sometimes this is derisively called a “vanity project”. Let me assure you, there is very little vanity in begging actor/singer friends to participate in your theatrical experiment, or calling in favors from director friends. But we did it. We also did the musical direction, and I designed and made the costumes. We did the program layout, designed the tickets, created the poster design and got it ready to be printed. We convinced an acquaintance to do the lighting, and amazingly he had a friend who wanted – Wanted!- to do the sets. And yes, both David and I took a role in the show.
The theater was only seventy five seats, but we were doing our show. We did another production of the show in another small theater, and amazingly both productions made money for both us and the theater. At the urging of one of his friends, the owner of a larger theater came to see one of the performances, and knowing the show had made money on both productions (butts in seats), decided to give us a shot in his theater. The production ended up running six performances a week for six and a half months.
We have now written, and had produced, seven shows, and are working on the eighth, Amneris. This production is a completely different situation. We are in the midst of COVID 19. There are even fewer theaters in a position to explore a new work. Keeping social distancing means even fewer seats are available to put butts in. The bottom line is that in many cases it is more cost effective for a theater to sit empty than to underwrite a production that will, in all likelihood, not make back the cost of production.
So we are trying another avenue. We are working on remote recording of the songs, which entails sending the music and backing tracks to the actor, who will then record the vocals via a computer program and send them back to us. We will then do the mixing and editing. If this works, as we think it will, we will then have the actors perform the script in front of a green screen via Zoom, or an equivalent program, and we will edit in very limited sets on the green screen. A master video will then be compiled of the show.
Yes, this is very iffy, but then what isn’t right now?
Fingers crossed, Amneris.
Thom Green and David Blanchard