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Hi everyone. In previous blogs I’ve discussed the challenges and rewards of self-producing a theater run of your one-person show. Now let’s get down to some of the details of HOW to do it. We’ll start with the Initial Planning.

(Source note: in addition to drawing from my own experience, I’ve gotten a lot of great ideas from the book Doing It Right In L.A., by Jacki Apple. Thank you, Jacki!)

In the Initial Planning Stage you clarify the purpose, personnel and parameters of the project. Answer for yourself the What, Why, Who, Who again, Where, and When. Write it all down in a notebook, so that you’re not just answering these questions vaguely, but giving yourself concrete parameters to guide your production:

WHAT am I doing? A monologue-style show, a musical, a dance piece, sketches, etc. Defining your project will help you enroll the right teammates and produce it the most efficiently.

WHY am I doing it? Yes, you want to put your art into the world. Are there additional motivations? To get reviewed? To get peer feedback? To get recognition in the community? To prepare for a tour? To deliver a specific message? Again, defining your motivation and goals allows you to aim your efforts in the right place for your purpose.

WHO am I doing it with? What personnel will you need for your production? You may want a director, a composer, a costumer, a set designer, other actors, some sound and light designers and operators, a ticket-taker, or a concessionaire. From this list you can start to find the right teammates, as well as accurately gauge your budget.

WHO is your audience? No doubt you will invite all your friends, family, and colleagues in the community. But beyond that, does your show have a potential specific audience? Perhaps it’s a great show for kids or schools, or it deals with women’s issues, or a political group, or (as in the case of my show) the cancer community. Identifying any niche audiences helps your target your marketing, finding the best and widest home for your work in the world.

WHERE and WHEN will I mount my production? These are based in large part on the answers above, what the show is, what you hope to achieve, and who it’s for.

  • Where – a theater is an obvious choice, but are there other venues that might be possible and appropriate: an office, a dance studio, an outdoor venue, schools, a church/mosque/synagogue, a community center etc.? You can get creative about what’s possible and affordable.
  • When – consider any scheduling parameters of the audience you hope to reach. Some examples: the school year (for school kids), and exam time; XYZ Awareness Month (many issues have an awareness month – Breast Cancer, Black History, Women’s History, and you can time your production to take advantage of the hoopla); entertainment industry schedules (pilot season, vacations, etc. You may want to consider when industry personnel will be most/least busy and most/least likely to attend a theater performance).

Clarity = power!

Next time: Creating a budget.

With great love,
Jonna Tamases