Lessons in Producing Theatre [Nerd in Transition]
Just where has Nerd in Transition been? She has been commuting from downtown Los Angeles to downtown Long Beach five days a week, traveling two hours each way on our cities brilliantly engineered mass transit system. The reason for this oft repeated time suck? Free rehearsal space in Long Beach.
As you may know from a long ago blogumn I wrote, I took it upon myself to produce a version of the play Night Mother. I picked a director I have known for a few years, yet never worked with, approached her about coming on board with me and she said yes. We cast the Mother role, I took the daughter role, and rehearsals started. Halfway through the woman playing the Mother dropped out. Looking at this as an welcome opportunity I pushed the show dates back from June to September, recast the mother role and started rehearsals back up a month later.
This is the first time I have produced anything. It’s kinda a big deal. Aside from the obvious career push and artistic actor fulfilment performing in this particular show could provide, my reasons for taking on the producer role go much deeper. I have a horribly destructive habit of starting things and not finishing them. So I decided that the next step up in my period of transition would be to take on a rather large project and see it through to the end as the leader. I also have a wonderfully constructive habit of attacking a problem head on. Such as the time I decided to conquer my fear of singing in front of people by performing the National Anthem in the middle of a roller derby track surrounded by almost 2000 people.
The way I saw it by producing and performing in the show Night Mother I would be tackling two glaring problems in my life:
1. Nobody is giving me an opportunity to act.
2. I need to finish what I start.
Things have been rocky. Not only did I lose the first Mother actor, but I had no budget for a rehearsal space. I really haven’t had a budget at all. That’s hard to admit, but the truth is I started this with very little planning, figuring I would work it all out as I went. And that, my friend, is exactly what I have done. By offering a trade of manual labor towards future set construction I got a weekend rehearsal space at a place called The Farm. It’s a live work space so periodically while rehearsing a strange man would have to pass through the set on the way to the bathroom. The other three nights of the week we met in my directors apartment or my little house. Considering it’s a show about the relationship between a mother/daughter living together in one house for 10 years, I felt this was a great way to build that relationship quickly.
Of course we are now in the final phase of rehearsal which means I have to start paying a few bills. I still have to pay for the rights to the show, that’s a hefty one. The theatre will want it’s rent check next week. I have a set that needs building. All this and more needed from a first time producer that likes to procrastinate. So the fundraising I should have started back in March, I have just kicked into overdrive.
My original intention was to use Kickstarter.com, a great website designed to help artists and others raise the money they need for their projects. Night Mother was approved last moth, yet the page never got activated on the site. The first hiccup was that it took me three weeks to get my promotional video required by Kickstarter edited. After discovering that my two editing programs were not reading the footage, I shot it then took weeks to get together with somebody willing to give me their Mac for a day. I invaded a friends home for a whole Sunday I came away having learned how to edit a four minute movie all by myself. A week later and that video is still not up on Kickstarter because I can’t get Amazon to recognize my repeated authorizations for a new account through Kickstarter.
That’s when I gave up and went over to Paypal. Over the course of the last week I have reached half my tiny fundraising goal through good old fashion emails, word of mouth, and repeated status updates on Facebook. Now I am coming to you dear reader. If you have a love of art, or just sympathize with my predicament why not go ahead and donate to the show? Every dollar helps, every one, $5 is great! $10 would go far! Of course $50-$100 could get you noticed by St. Peter. $1000 gets you a gold check in your lifetime good deed book.
Run Dates: Sept. 8,9,10,15 and 16
Show Time: 8pm
Tickets: $15, $12 Student & Senior, Thursday 15, Pay what you can night
Location: ArtShare LA
801 East 4th Place
Los Angeles, 90013
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featured image credit: Molly Kay