5 ways amateur dramatics groups can raise their visibility

8th May 2018

It’s easy for any business or organisation to disappear in the sea of social media or reams of business directories, and it can be just the same for an amateur dramatics group.

So how do you keep your group visible in the eyes of your existing audience and raise that visibility even more to attract new audience members too?

1. Local Press

Utilise your local media contacts, newspapers or radio, to get regular mentions for not only your shows but also:

  • any fundraising events you hold
  • castings for your next show and requests for non-acting help
  • member news
  • Find stories for the press that will keep your group firmly in the minds of their readers or listeners.

    2. Website

    With your own website, there’s no algorithms to worry about. You control exactly what appears there. Take advantage of your own slice of the internet by updating it regularly with:

  • all those press mentions (see point 1)
  • group news
  • show details and photos
  • requests for help and sponsorship
  • group history and photo archive
  • subscription to your mailing list
  • and of course your box office to sell show tickets.
  • Don’t forget to publicise your website to bring traffic to it though, which brings me neatly onto point 3.

    3. Social media

    There are all kind of social media sites out there to choose from. Use the one (or ones) that suit you and your audience best.

    On Facebook you can have a page to publicise your group (linked to your website of course), and set up a group for members too.

    Twitter is excellent for getting all your news out there and with a now increased wordcount, it’s easier than ever to craft an attractive tweet. For the best chance of a retweet or interaction, add an image, a video, a link or a hashtag (or a combination of 2 or more of those).

    Instagram has an incredible following and with its visual element, it’s a perfect fit for a performance group.

    Take advantage of YouTube and video’s increasing popularity by using this social media platform to post behind-the-scenes videos, guided tours, rehearsal scenes and cast interviews.

    There are plenty of other social media sites out there too, including amateur dramatics related websites such as Sardines Magazine and amdram.co.uk

    4. Connect with your community

    I’m sure you already leave show posters with your local shops but why not reach out to your local community for:

  • sponsorship and advertising – would your local supermarket provide food supplies for your show buffet, or a nearby printer print your programmes, in return for a mention as the show’s sponsor or an advert in all your publicity material?
  • Could you use dancers from your local dance school in your pantomime?
  • Would a local shop sell show tickets for you?
  • Have a look at the kind of shops and organisation that exist in your community to see how your group and they could work together.

    5. Newsletter

    If you send out a newsletter, either in print or by email, ask your mailing list subscribers to pass on newsletters to anyone they think might be interested in the group, either as audience or member.

    Ask for help too. Who knows which of your mailing list subscribers might have that spare fold-away bed you need for your next production, or be willing to act as your show photographer?

    And as always, don’t forget to mention your website and social media links too.

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    Don’t allow your group to get lost in the crowd. Keep on shouting about your shows and attracting the audience you deserve.

    5 ways Murdering The Text can alter a script to suit your production

    14th April 2018

    At Murdering The Text, we aim to do all we can to help you with your murder mystery fundraisers so over the years, we’ve made customer-requested alterations to many of our scripts.

    If you want to buy one of our murder mystery scripts but they’re not quite the right fit for your cast or event, here are just five of the ways we can alter them to suit:

    1. Cut down the number of characters

    When we originally wrote The Blunt End for a high school in the south of England, they asked us to write for a much larger cast than usual so that all of their interested pupils could take part. The resulting cast added up to 15 named characters and additional performers too.

    A couple of years later we were approached by a group who loved the idea of the play but had a more modest cast. We took a fresh look at the script and reduced the cast down to a suitable 8 characters. We now offer this reduced cast version of The Blunt End in our catalogue of plays.

    2. Change the gender of characters

    The Waxworks of Horror was originally written with a cast of 2 female and 3 male actors (with an additional screaming individual sprinting across the stage). When a long time customer came to us with the problem of no available male actors, we altered the play to have an all-female cast. This version is now available for purchase on request.

    3. Fit your stage

    Having problems fitting one of our plays to your stage? Perhaps you have limited stage space or entrances. Forward us your stage layout with possible exits and access points, and we’ll alter the script to suit your venue. It might even be that you can’t fit or transport certain furniture items onto your stage. We’ll think up a new list of furniture to suit.

    4. Alter the dialogue

    Whether you feel a piece of dialogue is too naughty or otherwise unsuitable for your audience, or you want to add in a couple of your own jokes or a local mention, we’re happy to help. Perhaps one of your actors wants a smaller part, or you’d like to add in a new character. Whatever the reason, we’ll readily rewrite sections of our play to suit your cast and production.

    5. Scripted reveal

    We like to think that the ad-libbed quality of the question time, when the audience interrogates the suspects, adds an excellent opportunity for your cast to show their knowledge of their character and make the production unique to your group but if you’d prefer to have a scripted reveal, perhaps delivered by a detective-type figure, then we’re happy to supply this as part of your event pack.

    Get in touch

    If you want to make alterations to any of our scripts, then please feel free to drop us an email. Any alteration is free of charge and made in discussion with you.

    How to keep down the costs of your murder mystery event

    7th April 2018

    As the born entertainers and seasoned performers that you are, the show is of course the thing. When you present your murder mystery event, you want to put on the best production possible for your audience, leaving them hungry for more. That’s the priority.

    Or is it?

    Isn’t the whole idea of holding a murder mystery fundraiser to, well, raise funds?

    I’m not saying that profit should be your sole priority but it’s certainly up there with wanting to entertain your audience.

    So how exactly do you keep down the costs on your theatrical whodunnit?

    Rehearsal Costs

    Don’t go to the expense of hiring space to rehearse in, at least not at the beginning.

    Meeting up at someone’s house to rehearse is perfectly acceptable. Initially, you’ll be reading through lines and running practice question times so sitting in the lounge of your director or one of the cast will suit fine.

    Even when you get to the stage of walk-throughs and mapping out the set, this can be done in someone’s home if they have a large enough space. If the weather is nice, move the rehearsal out to the garden or a local park.

    If you’re running rehearsals for another production at the same time as your murder mystery, you could always beg a corner of that space to run through your rehearsals in.

    Costumes

    The first stop for sourcing costumes for your murder mystery is with your cast. Do they have clothes of their own that would suit? Unless the play is set in the past (and sometimes even if it is), your cast can probably provide their own costume, or even lend clothes to each other.

    What about the group’s existing wardrobe? Is there anything there you could use or adapt?

    Finally, hit the charity shops for items that might suit as they are or that can be altered.

    The Set

    I wrote about this back in December in Setting the Scene for half the cost (or less).

    Have a look.

    Publicity

    You probably already utilise a lot of free and low-cost publicity for your shows but here are a few ways we’ve used in the past to limit publicity costs.

    • Website and social media – wherever you have an online presence, publicise your show, including posting teasers in the run up to the murder mystery event.
    • Local press and radio – utilise your usual media contacts from the local paper and radio station.
    • Mailing list – if your group has an email mailing list, then send out emails to all your contacts. If your group sends out flyers and letters in the post to your mailing list, then do that, but remember to limit the cost of producing any flyer or letter. Use second class postage unless you can do deliver by hand.
    • Local shops, pubs and offices – ask them to pin a flyer on their notice board.
    • Show programmes – mention the upcoming murder mystery in the programmes of the previous show.

    Printing

    The first big tip is to keep everything you print – tickets, programmes, flyers – simple black print. There’s no need for colour images or lettering. Keep it simple.

    Do you need the normal format programme (a folded piece of A5 or A4)? Could you simplify with a single sided piece of A5 or A6?

    Does one of your group members have a printer that you could use? Provide the paper (which could just be plain white paper if your black design is striking enough) and give them some money towards the printer ink.

    Don’t print out more than you need, of anything. For instance, one clue sheet or deduction sheet per audience team should suffice. If possible and the cost of ink isn’t too expensive, have a printer with you on the night to print anything extra you need, or better still would be to have access to a photocopier on site.

    If you can get away without a printed out poster, and just rely on online posters and printed out flyers, then go with that plan. Printed flyers are cheaper by far.

    Balance the cost of printing against photocopying.

    Does anything really need to be on A4? Generally, A5 or smaller will be fine.

    Prizes

    Don’t go mad on winner prizes. Keep it simple – chocolates or wine, for instance – and keep the cost down by using your local cash and carry, taking advantage of offers in your local supermarkets or buying from pound stores where everything costs £1 or less.

    Ask your involved group members to provide something for a raffle. Remember, several small items can be bundled up into a larger prize.

    Finally, offer advertising in your programme and publicity (any related news articles, for instance) to local businesses in return for prizes.

    Refreshments

    You may choose to offer a bar, or a cold buffet, or even a three-course meal, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune.

    Having a bar, or even a non-alcoholic coffee and tea offering, can bring in a tidy profit. People like an excuse to stretch their legs, and this is a night out after all so your audience will want to treat themselves to a drink of some kind.

    Your local cash and carry is always a good place to buy the basics in bulk and thereby at a cheaper price.

    Ask your members to provide at least part of your food and drink offerings.

    Use any stock you have left over from past shows such as paper plates and bottles of water.

    Again, offer advertising in your programme and publicity to local businesses in return for food and drink.

    Finally, don’t go overboard on the amount of food you offer as part of your buffet. Cost it all against the price of a ticket. You don’t want to spend £20 on food per head and only charge £10 per head for a ticket.

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    Here’s to an enjoyable, popular and profitable fundraiser. Good luck.