Last time our fearless director investigated the methods for getting an audience for your show while ignoring the fact that without a cast there isn’t a show.
Last week I investigated the methods for trying to get an audience for your show, however, what if like the writer of the play I am directing you have a show and want it performing, how difficult is that?
Episode Six: The Show Must Go On! Please!
For those that are not aware of the fact, the play I am directing soon at The Playhouse Theatre, Theatrical Knights is a piece written by someone relatively new to this writing game and the play itself has never been performed before. Also for those not aware of the fact, I, your brave director have also got a collection of plays in various stages of development and perhaps one day, I would also be looking to try to take them onto the stage for the first time as well.
So how difficult can that be? Over the last few months, I have investigated this in the hope of finding that sneaky way through the door. Perhaps my involvement in a relatively active way in the local theatre network of Northampton might one day serve me well? It is after all who you know and not what you know. So if one day I actually finish another play, I might try to use these influences (be prepared, you know who you are) to get a foot through the stage door.
However, what if you have no links at all, and have just started writing for hobby, pleasure and hope? It turns out that a little while ago, I made contact with someone online who was trying to do just that. A challenged but persevering soul, not desperate, but just really hopeful of getting something they had written performed on stage. We exchanged emails and during these conversations, they revealed some very scary stats that could unsettle and put off someone with a slightly weak level of ambition.
They had a total of three completed stage play scripts at that time, none performed and set forth into the email-sphere with a simple synopsis of the three to theatre groups around where they lived. These synopses were, of course, brief and just to give an aperitif of the contents of the plays. Therefore anyone who read them had no way of knowing the quality of the complete product without replying and requesting one or more of the scripts to read.
As the emails unfolded the true fear of any hope of getting a play you have written performed became more horrific with every character of the emails.
This brave new writer informed me that with no or little reply, they slowly spread their wings across county after county in the hope of getting some interest. Just any at all.
They kept detailed information of those emails and some time ago shared them with me. These three synopses were sent out to theatres across the country a total of 735 times, the response states were depressing in the extreme. From those emails, just 5% replied at all, a swift 3% of these were simple rejections with no request to see any of the three scripts. The other 2% were the only ones to request a script. The figures are quite remarkable and tell a great deal of how difficult it is to make it in the playwriting game.
However, if all this seems like an impossible task to undertake and that you may as well give up on any prospects now, take these two great things from this week’s episode. My contact has since been successful in getting a play performed and this alone has kept them in the game for more success.
The second one is the success of mine that I now regard greater following these conversations. To date as I write this, I have only ever completed one play. True it was only a ten-minute piece, however, that piece did something that clearly a great deal of material out there does not achieve, it got on stage.
It is also well worth remembering that while I write here of stage, the avenues are aplenty in the writing world, so think perhaps of travelling down the novel, short story, screenplay and radio play avenues as well. There are many a path that a writer can take.
There is also a great deal of luck involved in the game clearly, either by finding just that single right guy (that Joe Public, Simon Cowell equivalent) who is willing to go the extra mile and has just enough connections or perhaps feeding the fire by getting to know a collection and groups of the right people. The door is ajar just very slightly, so the only way to get through is to force it a little, coaxing yourself through. After all the show must go on, it really must.