How to choose your next production – Part 2

Following on from last week’s post on how to choose your next production, here’s part 2 of this article.

5. Is the play currently touring/being performed in the UK professionally?

There are three reasons why it might not be a good idea to perform such a show:

  • During a professional run or tour of a production, amateur productions of this play or musical may not be allowed.
  • If they are allowed, then royalty fees will be higher than usual (and possibly higher than your group would be willing to spend).
  • With all the resources, finance and talent in the world, an amateur production may be looked at in a negative light compared to a current professional production of the same. This is incredibly unfair because there are so many amateur groups out there who are professional to the extreme but theatrical snobbery is unfortunately still alive and kicking its stuff.
  • 6. Are any local amateur groups planning to perform this play at the same time as yours?

    Your group is sure to have a loyal following but often audiences overlap across more than one amateur dramatics group.

    Then, there are the audience members who aren’t loyal to one group but rather choose the shows they attend depending on which play or musical is on offer.

    Don’t dilute your chances of obtaining a full audience by competing with another nearby group who are performing the same show.

    Keep the competition element for just that, competitions, and stay on good terms with your fellow amateur thespians. You never know when you may need to borrow an actor or an item of furniture, or be on the look-out for groups to hire your props and costumes.

    7. Will it appeal to your audience, or are you trying to attract a new audience?

    Most amateur dramatics groups earn themselves a reputation for the kind of shows they perform. One may become known for its original and expensively costumed pantomimes, another will produce hilarious comedies, while a third is known for its youth element.

    The audience you attract will depend on your group’s reputation. The pantomime group will likely attract a family audience, the comedy group’s audience will be mainly over 30s, and the audience of the third group will have a large contingent of parents who have come along to watch their offspring perform.

    When you consider a script, ask yourself whether it will appeal to your current audience? If the answer is yes, then as long as you publicise your show well, you’re in with a good chance of selling lots of tickets.

    If the answer is no, however,

  • Is this intentional? Are you purposely trying something new that may not appeal to your usual audience? If this is the case, then how are you going to grab the attention of that new audience?
  • If you want to hang onto your usual audience, and the play won’t appeal to them, then maybe you should consider another play instead, or at least be aware of the possibility that you may not get the audience numbers you usually attract.
  • 8. Will it appeal to your group members?

    There’s no sense in your committee or chairperson choosing a script if there’s no interest amongst your members to perform it.

    Ask your group, as a whole, what kind of show they’d like to perform. They may even have some specific shows they’re interested in.

    Are there roles they’d like to try their hands at that are new to them? Your usual heroic lead may prefer to take on a comic role, or that chorus member who has always been in the background might want to step up for a more major part this time around.

    Who was left out of the last production? Could you choose a play that would provide a role for them this time round? There’s nothing worse than enthusiastically joining an am dram group and never getting a part.

    9. Worst case scenario – if you don’t make much (or any) profit from this production, can you afford the next?

    With the best publicity, talent, support and resources in the world, sometimes a play just doesn’t appeal to its audience. Take-up of tickets is disappointing and there are more seats than bums.

    Sometimes, it isn’t down to any lack of support. It could be due to illness, withdrawal of venue or even something as unexpected as a snow storm.

    Whatever the reason is, if your production doesn’t make a profit, can your group survive? Do you have sufficient savings to stage your next show? Or could you fundraise in some way?

    It’s never nice to consider failure but ensuring you have sufficient funds to weather that storm can make the difference between a continuing group and one that comes to an end.