The weather is heating up, and so are things here at donna scott productions! As we head into the summer (and our next project !!!), it would be foolish not to take stock of the lessons we’ve learned so far this year. This winter we produced 2 shows in 2 non-traditional venues, and a whole lot of lessons were learned by all 3 of us – below we’ve each listed just a few of them.
The DSP 3: Glynnis, Donna, and Tonya
- Don’t Go It Alone: This season is the first time I’ve produced with Glynnis and Tonya, and working as part of a team made Carrie Ann’s Kiss and Shiloh Rules more successful than they ever could have been if I had done it by myself. Every decision, challenge, or perceived setback seemed so much less daunting knowing I didn’t have to face it on my own. (It also doesn’t hurt if your co-producers happen to share the same taste in wine as you do.)
- We’re All In It Together: When I set out to produce theatre in the South End neighborhood, I didn’t realize how much the existing community would embrace us. So many of the individuals and businesses there were excited about bringing theatre to South End and offered to help us. When working on a creative project, it’s easy to get tunnel vision/become fixated on your creative process, but looking around at the place you’re creating art for and including them in that process can benefit everyone.
- Hold Out For Dream Cast – They’re Out There! Casting Carrie Ann’s Kiss and Shiloh Rules was not quick or easy. At times it seemed we would never have a complete cast for either show, but eventually were able to fill each role with the actor who ended up being the perfect fit. On either side of casting, it’s hard to hear the word “No,” but “No” always means that the right person is getting ready to get the opportunity they deserve.
- Adapt to the Space: When I first started working on Shiloh Rules in CAL, I thought the show would be performed in the round. After a week of rehearsal, I quickly realized that we needed to change the configuration of the stage to a more traditional proscenium set up. This meant changing seats, lighting, entrances/exits, sound, and just about everything! While nobody wants to make that kind of adjustments 3 weeks before opening, I knew that I had to serve the play, performers, and space.
- Talk Is Cheap – TAKE ACTION! This was first my experience being a producer, and it was so empowering to take action and be a part of making a show happen. In the beginning of my career, I felt so desperate to work and kept waiting for the perfect scenario to present itself. It takes a thousand times more hard work to create your own opportunities, but it’s definitely worth it. Stop talking about what you want to do and DO IT!
- The Deli Menu at Common Market Is AMAZING Seriously y’all, after months of rehearsing in South End, none of us ever got tired of this place. I’m partial to the Cobb salad myself, but you can’t really go wrong with anything there.
The biggest lesson we’re learning as we continue to produce is that theatre is changing. There’s no blue print or road map for how to produce and create. You have to flexible and realize that any plan you make is going to change. All we can do is take what we’ve learned and run through the open doors together!
(This post originally appeared as part of the Charlotte Magazine Revue Blog Takeover Series)
Mixed metaphors aside, sometimes, you just gotta pull the trigger. And I am not talking about guns, people…I am talking about situations. Ideas. Events. Creativeness. Cleverness, even.
Space is THE BIGGEST COMMODITY for those of us in Charlotte in the Indy Theatre biz. It goes like this: You have a great idea for an event or show but you need a space to execute the idea. Spaces are expensive and usually booked waaaaay in advance. But sometimes, as you are confidently throwing your idea out there into the world, some fabulous forward thinking person that has access to a space buys in on your idea and you are put in a situation where you need to act quickly and seal the deal—possibly more quickly than you originally intended or planned.
Case in point No. 1: Chickspeare at NoDa Brewing
Susie Ford, owner of NoDa Brewing and Sheila Snow Procter were friendly aquantances. Upon a visit to the brewery, Sheila started talking one day to Susie about the Shakespeare group that she co-founded that at one time did shows in a brewery, and how fun and popular it was, etc, etc. Susie thought this was so fantastic and wondered if it would work at NoDa Brewing…and hey, maybe a food truck could be involved and here’s a few open dates, whaddaya think? Sheila agreed to jump in and pull the trigger-even though it meant she was gonna have to do something she hadn’t before: simultaneously act in and produce the show. This is no cakewalk, fyi. But, if you’ve been lucky enough to get a ticket to one of these fun ChicksBeer evenings, you know that they are now incredibly popular for NoDa Brewing and sell out whenever they are announced; it’s a perfect marriage of arts event and festive venue that’s a win for both groups involved, but wouldn’t have worked if either party hadn’t been willing to just go ahead and strike while the idea was hot.
Case in point No. 2: Yes and…Fest at Snug Harbor
Drea Cunningham had a fantastic idea for a local theatre arts fest that would showcase original work, improv and Indy theatre groups around town. She wanted it to be a benefit a worthy group: The Possibility Project, a group that allows Charlotte teens to create their own theatre piece and then present it to an audience. She knew Jason Michel, a partner at Snug Harbor and knew he was a supporter of the arts—he loved her idea and agreed with a pretty quick date less than 2 months away. She sent out a call with the opportunity to present to some groups around town and they agreed to make it happen—and on a rainy Sunday afternoon she produced her first ‘Yes and…Fest’ at Snug Harbor, complete with theatre companies presenting current work, a comedian, an improv short film, fun improv games for the group in-between sets and a special performance of a brand new piece by some of the teens of The Possibility Project. Such a funky arts way to spend a couple hours on your Sunday Funday…and yahoo!!! Tweeting, instagram, and social media sharing of the event was not only allowed but encouraged. Big win for all involved and there’s another one in the works for late summer/ early fall.
In both of these situations, the timbre of the event perfectly fit the venue, and for successful producing this is a crucial factor. More crucial than that—you have to be willing to strike while the iron is hot–cause sitting around and just talking is just that-and baptism by fire is a good way to learn stuff.