How to produce your own work – part 4: Building your team

 

Image by Uitleg & Tekst via Flickr Commons
Image by Uitleg & Tekst via Flickr Commons

 Kimberley Andrews continues her series on producing her own show.  In her fourth post, she talks about how to build your team, what to expect from a director and the benefits of bringing other people on board…

So, by this point, I had material, a venue and I had figured out that putting my show on wasn’t likely to leave me hungry and destitute. All I needed now was a team of people to make the show happen: a director, actors and a technical team – and I’d have this producing malarkey in the bag.  As a theatre graduate and writers’ group regular I assumed (or perhaps naively hoped) that finding a group of super talented and wonderful people would just be a matter of making a few calls. I mean, I was only looking for people to give up their evenings and weekends to work on a show by an unknown writer for free…not much to ask, right?

Well, it’s true that depending on how well connected you are – say, if you’re fresh out of drama school and have loads of mates who are just itching to make some theatre – finding people to work on your show might be no problem at all; but I’d graduated a few years back and most of my old course mates were busy trying to build their own careers, many of them busy working in full time jobs to pay the bills.  Finding the right people who were free and up for working on the project actually turned out to be quite a challenge.

Things to do before you try and get people on board…

To-do list book by Justin See via Flickr Commons
To-do list book by Justin See via Flickr Commons
  1. 1. Make your play as bloody brilliant as it can and should be. If you’re unsure of it, potential directors and actors will be too. Have someone read your work and then polish it to perfection before trying to get people on board.

2. Be organised! While you don’t need to have planned your rehearsal schedule minute for minute (in fact, it’s great to be a bit flexible so that you can work around people’s availability), it’s worth having some idea of how many rehearsals you have in mind and where you might rehearse (I’ll be covering pulling this sort of stuff together later in the series).

3. Adopt a flexible approach. I know, it’s hard to resist the temptation of visualising your performance down to every last detail; but when you get a director on board, they’ll have ideas of their own. If you’re disagreeable about everything, they won’t want to work with you and you’ll come across as a bit of a loon, which is bad. Try to bear in mind that if a theatre ever produces your work, you’ll be handing over your script to a team of people for their interpretation so it’s worth getting used to it before you hit the big time.

Image by Driek via Flickr Commons
Image by Driek via Flickr Commons

What next? Well, I should say here that since my piece was a one-off show on a pitiful budget, my technical team didn’t need to be anything more than a couple of friends willing to earn a pint by turning on the CD player and the lights. So for me, that bit was simple. As a producer of a small scale show like this, you’ll most likely take on the job of sorting out costume, marketing and some of the stage manager duties (although the venue itself will have a manager who will be involved up to a point). Of course, if you’re planning something more elaborate, then you’ll need to hire the relevant people. If you don’t have anyone in mind, I’d suggest asking the venue for recommendations or waiting until you’ve got a director and actors on board so you can ask them for any contacts they might have.

Really, my first big job was to find a director. I would always do this before trying to cast your piece because a) lots of directors prefer to do the casting themselves and b) at the very least, they’ll probably know a fair few actors and save you a lot of stress. It’s definitely worth chatting to the director to agree some creative boundaries before you start. Do you want to be involved with rehearsals? Do you have some actors in mind? How do you feel about the director making cuts to your script? Getting these kind of things out in the open before you start can save you a lot of hassle later – there is nothing more awkward than a battle of wills between the director and the writer in the rehearsal room and a bad atmosphere is never going to make your show better.

Image by Jakub Hlavaty
Image by Jakub Hlavaty

If you really hate the idea of someone else putting their mark on your show and you’re sure you haven’t become corrupted by the overwhelming power of becoming a producer, think about directing it yourself – if you think you’ve got what it takes. Personally, I haven’t got a directorial bone in my body and the thought of running rehearsals scares the living daylights out of me, so this just wasn’t an option. Plus, dare I say it – I think having another person’s input can make your show better. For instance, I pictured my protagonist as a slightly chubby biker, bursting out of his leather jacket; but when the director brought on a tall, skinny guy, it brought a new awkwardness to the character that I hadn’t anticipated – and it made things a whole lot funnier. As it happened, my director was a friend, and we agreed to cast the piece together – but it was more about sharing the workload than me wanting to have creative control.

Image by Michele via Flickr Commons
Image by Michele via Flickr Commons

So, what if you don’t have any director friends? Well, ask around: are any of your friends making theatre? Did you study with any budding directors? Are you a director? If you genuinely don’t know anyone who might know someone who might just be able to put you in touch with someone else who knows a director then perhaps it’s worth taking a step back before you decide to produce your own show. Do a course, join a writers’ group, apply for opportunities (like the ones you find on this site!), go to friends’ shows, mingle, and widen your network before you start. And if this thought genuinely horrifies you, consider finding a social butterfly to co-produce with you.

While it’s possible to find a director through advertising on sites such as Arts Jobs, in my experience, emerging directors are usually very busy folk; they tend to gain their experience by working as assistant directors so they are pretty much worked to the bone. Sure, they might be happy at the opportunity to take the directorial reins for themselves, but it takes a huge leap of faith for them to offer their time to a complete stranger, unless you have some sort of connection (or you’re famous).

Do’s and Don’ts…

  • DO set boundaries before you start.
  • DON’T fib – if someone interpreting your work in a different way is going send you in to a fit of despair, don’t pretend to be as cool as a cucumber just to get a director on board.
  • DON’T be a control freak, and try to be open to new ideas.

In the next post, I’ll be shedding some light on casting and sharing my tips on how to find actors.

Previous Posts: Part 1: Getting Started, Part 2: Finding a venue, Part 3: Budget & Profit

Opportunities Weekly Round-up: 27 February 2015

Our weekly Friday round-up of opportunities listed on the blog that haven’t yet reached their closing date (listed in order of closing date).

Opportunities are now grouped into three sections: 1) Opportunities with Deadlines; 2) Ongoing opportunities (no deadline); and 3) Workshops and Events.

Opportunities with deadlines:

Play Submissions Helper – 49 Playwriting Contests with March 2015 Deadlines – Deadline: various

Pitch your play at the Theatre Royal Haymarket – Deadline 27 February at 5pm

Talawa offering R&D Studio Space to black British emerging artists – Deadline 27 February at 5pm

Giant Cherries LGBT Playwriting Competition 2015 (£20 entry fee) – Deadline: 28 February 2015

Sydenham Arts accepting monologues from London writers – Deadline: 28 February 2015

Nickelodeon Writing Program open for submissions– Deadline: 28 February 2015

BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum – final shout out for TV scripts (entry fee) – Deadline: 28 February 2015

George Devine Award 2015 open to submissions – Deadline: 1 March 2015

Cut Throat Theatre Company looking for script for Camden Fringe Festival -Deadline: 1 March 2015

Paint Dry Theatre seeking short plays for scratch night – Deadline: 1 March 2015

pluck. theatre company seeking new play submissions – Deadline: 2 March 2015

Story Friday with A Word In Your Ear (Bath) – Theme: Quilt of Stories – Deadline: 2 March 2015

2015 Windsor Fringe Kenneth Branagh Drama Writing Award (amateur playwrights only) – Deadline: 5 March 2015

You are Already Dead looking for plays for experimental new writing night – Deadline: 7 March 2015

James Tait Black Prize for Drama launched for professionally produced plays– Deadline: 9 March 2015

Putney Arts Theatre seeking plays on ‘Crime and Punishment’ (£20 fee to join club if selected) – Deadline: 15 March 2015

A Friend of a Friend productions seeking short plays for Blackfriars Stories (for playwrights with connection to SE London) – Deadline: 15 March 2015

Sky Blue Theatre accepting one-act plays for British Theatre Challenge (£15 fee) – Deadline:  30 March 2015

2015 Papatango New Writing Prize – Deadline:  31 March 2015

Blackwell House seeking class-style radio plays (15-45 min) – Deadline:  31 March 2015

Blackwell House seeking class-style radio plays (15-45 min) – Deadline:  31 March 2015

Euroscript Screenwriting Competition open for feature length submissions (£35 entry fee) – Deadline: 31 March 2015

Irlam Festival Theatre seeking 10-15 minute plays – Deadline:  1 April 2015

Tron Theatre (Glasgow) accepting submissions for scratch night – Theme: SURVIVAL – Deadline:  2 April 2015

BBC Scriptroom dates for 2015 – Deadline: 2 April 2015 (submissions open 9 March 2015)

Ticket to Write 2015 seeking one act plays about the Beatles (£10 application fee, £150 prize) – Deadline: 7 April 2015

GRIT: Royal Court seeking plays about resistance that can fit in the palm of your hand – Deadline:  10 April 2015

The Walter Swan Playwriting Award 2015 seeking 20-30 minute plays – Deadline:  30 April 2015

Wellcome Trust Arts Awards funding opportunity – Deadline: 1 May 2015

Tron Theatre (Glasgow) accepting submissions for scratch night – Theme: BETRAYAL – Deadline: 7 May 2015

ArtsEd seeking 10-12 min short film scripts – Deadline: 22 May 2015

2015 Pint-sized Plays competition open for submissions -Deadline: 31 May 2015

2015 Bruntwood Prize Competition open to submissions – Deadline: 5 June 2015

Roister Doister Publishing launch competition to find plays for young people – Deadline: 3 July 2015

Saving Endangered Species (SES) International Playwriting Prize (California, $100 prize) – Deadline: 30 November 2015

 

Ongoing submissions:

Criterion New Writing programme open to applications – Deadline: not posted, but best to apply early!

TreePress seeking playwrights to upload scripts for Beta Testing – Deadline: none posted

New Prose in East London seeking submissions – Deadline: not posted

East End Literary Salon open to rolling submissions – Deadline: rolling

Creative Writer on UK Popular Culture wanted (London/ Reading) – paid – Deadline: none posted

Peppered Wit seeking submissions for fringe festivals – Deadline: none posted

Plane Paper Theatre looking for writers: Deadline: none posted

Orange Tea Theatre accepting submissions – Deadline: rolling

Fractured Lines accepting scripts for new writing night – Deadline: rolling

Theatrelab accepting scripts – rolling submissions

Kings Head Theatre seeking work in development for Without Decor – Deadline: none posted

Funding available for students at Glasgow University MLitt Playwriting & Dramaturgy – Deadline: none posted

Everything Theatre accepting plays for podcast readings – Deadline: none posted

Performance Platform Opportunity, University of Greenwich – Deadline: None posted

Quids In Theatre Co seeking 40-60 minute plays for lunchtime series – Deadline: Ongoing

The Cockpit Theatre seeking work for scratch nights – No deadline posted but performances take place on the first Monday of the month through to June 2014.

ScriptSpace development workshop at The Space – Deadline: None

Shred Productions open to submissions – Deadline: None (open submissions)

Open Arts Cafe Call for Submissions – Deadline: None posted

Poppy Seed – accepting submissions of 5 minute scripts for blog – Deadline: None posted

COG ARTSpace call out for playwrights! – Deadline: None posted

 

Events and workshops: 

Half-day Royal Court Playwriting Workshop in Tottenham – 14 February 2015, 10.30am-12.30pm

Online playwriting workshop with Phil Porter from the Bruntwood Prize – 17 February 2015, 6-8pm

Playwriting Workshop with Sam Holcroft at the National Theatre (£85/£65 concessions) – Application Deadline: 20 February 2015.  Workshop: Friday 17 April, 10am – 4.30pm

Papergang Script Writing Workshops 2015 (for writers of East Asian heritage) – Late Feb-March 2015

One day ‘Creativity for Scriptwriters’ course with Philip Shelley (£89) – Saturday February 21st 2015, 10.15- 5.30

IdeasTap Inspires Event: The Pros and Cons of Playwriting Residencies – 24 February 2015, 11am-12.30pm

Free Taster Session workshop with London Playwriting Lab (note: not affiliated with LPB) – Tuesday February 24th from 7-9pm

Octagon Theatre Bolton and BBC Writersroom running five act structure masterclass – Deadline: 19 March 2015

Also, see the IdeasTap Spa for masterclasses coming up in early 2015!

Little Pieces of Gold accepting ten minute plays for production at Theatre503

Little Pieces of Gold are seeking six ten minute plays which will be staged at Theatre503 on the 14th & 15th June 2015.  The short plays will accompany the main production of Sarah Hehir’s hard-hitting new play, Child Z.

Plays should explore a situation where people find themselves in a struggle to be heard by authorities/services/organisations/systems. For instance you might want to pick up on a big news story from the last year – the health service, social housing, youth unemployment, or the issue of free speech itself. Or it could be more personal and domestic. The world is your oyster.  (Plays should not directly address the themes of Child Z.)

Little Pieces of Gold have produced the plays of over one hundred playwrights at leading London venues. Showcases garner much industry interest, introduce writers to literary agents, facilitate long term creative collaborations and provide a platform for new voices, theatre makers and performers.

More info about Child Z and guidelines for the short play showcase

Deadline: 27 April 2015

Source: BBC Writers Room

You are Already Dead looking for plays for experimental new writing night

Collaborators and materials wanted for experimental new ‘writing’ night.

You Are Already Dead is a home for the unusual; an experiment in theatre and non-theatre artist collaboration and bold, unconventional interpretations of ‘text’.

The first YAAD will be a 90 minute night of new works between one and 20 minutes long performed to a public audience on 25th May.

They’re looking for:
writers to send in ‘texts’ (the definition of text is open; could be a play script, a letter, a photo, a gesture…) and
makers (performers, directors, sculptors, painters, cellists…) to collaborate and experiment boldly with the medium. Following an initial informal jam in late March (they’re thinking a 24-hour theatre project) you’ll then get your pick of starting materials and collaborators.

Key Dates:
7th March, 11:59pm: call-out closes.
7th March – 14th March: we scan through and assemble a team
March 14: invitations go out
End of March: THE CATALYST / Meet-up / Sharing
April – May: Preparations / Rehearsals
25th of May: You Are Already Dead

This will be artist-led, with the central guideline being to try something you’ve never done before in a safe and supportive environment.

Make work like you are already dead.

How to apply:
Send you text and name to: info@youarealreadydead.com
with ‘WRITER’ as the email subject

or:
Flat 1-2
2-3 Greenland Place
NW1 0AP
London

Deadline: 7 March 2015

Source: Playwriting UK Facebook Page

Page to Stage accepting 10 minute plays (deadline 26 Feb!)

 

Artists Anonymous are delighted to present Page to Stage. The next event is on 16 March– and they’d like to hear from theatre scriptwriters!

Page to Stage is a script development and networking event for London theatre-makers. They’re looking for writers to submit a 10-minute script (or excerpt of a longer script) to be rehearsed by actors and directors, then shared and given feedback by an industry panel. It’s a great way to try out new material, see your work performed, receive feedback and advice from the experts, and create useful working relationships with other theatre-makers.

Once a final list of four scripts has been chosen, calls are sent out for actors and directors to take part.

How to submit:  Complete theArtists-Anonymous-Script-Submission form and send it with your script to: london@artists-anonymous.org.

Deadline for submitting your script: 26 February 2015

If your script is chosen, you will be asked for £10 on the day. This is a contribution towards the organisation of the evening (including of course the feedback from the industry panel).

Any questions? Contact Miranda Harrison at: london@artists-anonymous.org

Source: Playwriting UK Facebook Page

COG ARTSpace call out for playwrights!

COG ARTSpace is a new 50 – 60 seat flexible performance space on the border of Hackney and Islington (London, N1). They are one of the 4 London venues that are officially part of Equity’s new ‘Professionally Made – Professionally Paid’ initiative to ensure artists are paid fairly for the work they do.

To help visiting companies pay their artists (At least minimum wage), we forgo any fixed hire fees or costs for use of the venue. We split the box office, on a sliding scale IN FAVOUR of the visiting company. This means that not only does your company earn money from the beginning, but as the box office rises, so does your percentage.

They are looking for submissions for the following 2015 projects:

Live Readings

They are soon to launch a monthly Podcast called WORDS. WORDS. WORDS. This podcast will feature a piece of new writing (45mins – 1hr approx) read by professional actors in-front of a live audience. They then open the floor for a short discussion (We’d love the playwright to be present here if possible).

The reading and discussion will be recorded with professional broadcast equipment, and available online as a free-to-download podcast. The event is free, and the download is free! It’s about exposing your work, and most importantly providing a platform for development. If you’d like to have a script considered, please submit it to scripts@COGARTSpace.com with the Subject WORDS WORDS WORDS.

Financial Deal: This podcast is 100% Free for all involved, so no money will be made from any party. It’s a voluntary event.

In-house productions

COG ARTS CIC is looking to produce 1 – 2 shows a year, and they’d love to read your scripts. This year they are looking for solo shows, 2 handers and 3 character productions of approx 1hr – 1.5hrs running time.

Please submit your scripts to scripts@COGARTSpace.com with the Subject Line – IN-HOUSE

Financial Deal: If we select your script for production, we will usually negotiate a percentage deal for royaltys. On certain occasions we may be able to secure a flat fee / per performance fee. Please details if this is a specific requirement in your submission

Deadline: None posted Source: IdeasTap Jobs Page

2015 Pint-sized Plays competition open for submissions

sized plays competition is open for submissions for it’s 2015 competition. and the six winners and four runners up were performed in Pembrokeshire pubs and then all went on to the Script Slam at Theatr Gwaun on October 4 where there were awards for best performance and best script.   

 Rules: plays must be 5-10 minutes long and should be able to be performed by two or three actors and be capable of being staged in the actual bar area of a pub, using only the furniture that is available and any props that the cast can carry.  But, as you can see from the videos and pics on the website, that allows for plenty of ingenuity and imagination!

How to apply: click here for an entry form. You’ll need to upload your play and write a short synopsis.

Deadline: 31 May 2015

Source: Pint-sized plays email newsletter

 

Euroscript Screenwriting Competition open for feature length submissions (£35 entry fee)

 

The Euroscript Screenwriting Competition was launched in 1994 under the auspices of the European Union’s Media II programme.

Producers throughout Europe complained that European scripts were going into production too early. In Hollywood, it was argued, scripts commonly go to 10 or 11 drafts whereas in Europe it’s substantially fewer.

In part, this is because European producers do not have the funds to pay writers to develop their scripts adequately. It was to meet this need that the Euroscript Screenwriting Competition was launched.

EUROSCRIPT SCREENWRITING COMPETITION

We accept story ideas which can be turned into feature-length screenplays (which are usually about 90 minutes to two hours in length). We regret we don’t accept treatments for short films, sit-coms, TV continuing drama series or radio plays.

This is NOT a UK-centred competition. Your stories can be set anywhere in the universe and you may enter from anywhere in the world.

The Euroscript Screenwriting competition pursues Euroscript’s vision to improve the quality of screenplays available for production.

THE PRIZES

FIRST PRIZE

Extensive and expert feedback on 3 DRAFTS of your script within a specified time period (usually a year)

As much face-to-face, over-the-phone and email support as you need to complete each of your 3 drafts

3 full script reports on each of your drafts usually running to 10-15 pages (click on the link to find out more about the report)

Marketing advice once the third draft is completed
SECOND PRIZE

A full script report on any script of your choice

THIRD PRIZE

A bullet point report on any script of your choice

How to apply: download the entry form and terms and conditions here.

Entry fee:  £35 – this includes a bullet point report on your entry script.

Deadline: 31 March 2015

Source: London Comedy Writers Newsletter