Whatever it Takes

Apologies for the long delay between posts. This week's excuse is that I was in tech week for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at the Owen Theatre. Last Friday was our opening night and the actors performed something of a tech week miracle.

I don't think it's a spoiler to say that this show took a long time to come together. As late as last Sunday, our runs of the show were slow, costumes hadn't been completed, lines were insecure, and the set was only half completed.

But in five days, the impossible occurred. The show actually came together. The final result is something everyone involved can be proud of.

The actors and crew did some truly genius work this week. They worked in and out of rehearsal to build and paint the set and stage, get costumes fitted, hang and focus lights, and clean up lines and choreography. By the end of the week, we had something that looks like the quality show that we wanted.

What I'm getting at, is that I really appreciate the work of this cast and crew. In the spirit of the title above, they did everything they could to pull this thing off. And they did. 

Special thanks to Philip Harris, who has helped me sort out a massive variety of microphone issues, to Ashley Truitt, who put in a truly ridiculous amount of work on the stage painting, and to Ethen Garcia and Kerri Edwards, who filled in roles at the last minute. It's a true team effort.

Thank you to all of the cast and crew. Without every one of them, this production would absolutely fall apart. In the next few days, I'll update the page for this show with new information and pictures about the show.

Building an Audience

I've been spending a lot of time this summer reading Drew McManus's blog Adaptistration, after I happened on it just before the end of the school year. Drew is a prolific writer, and has published an article virtually every day since sometime in 2003. I've only made it through 2009 so far, but it's been fascinating reading.

Among the many things that Drew returns to over and over are the questions of how to make an organization socially relevant and financially solvent. That is, how to attract and keep an audience.

Throughout these early archives, Drew emphasizes relationships. He is constantly urging groups to communicate between management and performers, and reach out and genuinely listen to the concerns of stakeholders such as board members, performers, administrators, and the audience.

This has gotten me thinking about some topics that I first approached back in the spring. I work with two organizations that are trying to build an audience and a reputation. One of them, the Players Theatre Company in Conroe, claims a 50+ year heritage of community service through theatre.

And yet it has a vibrant, young competitor right across the street. Shows rarely sell out, despite a relatively small auditorium to fill. This suggests to me that their reputation doesn't speak for itself enough to attract unify the community behind them. How can they improve their standing?

The other company, The Woodlands Chamber Music Project (Facebook) (Instagram), exists in a somewhat untapped market. The northwest Houston area doesn't have any homegrown chamber music ensembles or performances. We want to bring this music to the area and generate some interest in the music, both new and old.

But so far, our three audiences have been made up almost entirely of family and close friends of the performers. How do we attract outsiders and people who aren't already invested in us personally? As we move forward, I want to discuss these things with my fellow organizers.

The live and performing arts are always struggling for their lives. Even artistically adventurous, culturally relevant organizations rely on donations and grants to help make ends meet. I still get calls from professional companies in Houston asking for donation. Is there any way a performing arts company can generate enough interest and find the correct balance of income and expenses to self perpetuate?