Saturday, January 14, 2006

Why I Go My Own Way

There's a very good reason for me producing this show. Actually, there are several. I think it's important to learn from your experiences. You really have to step back after everything hits the fan and settles and draw a lesson from it. Otherwise, bad experiences will weigh you down so you never try anything adventurous again.

Over a year ago, Andrew and I were part of a showcase with our acting class. We spent a lot of money (about $1000 total) and a lot of time (about 20 hours on technical/building/rigging stuff, who knows how much on the performance end) trying to make something happen in our careers. The plan was to get agents from the show since we invited so many industry people. We were supposed to get a list of the industry people who attended, but I think it got lost in the shuffle of folks before it made its way to distribution. We busted our butts for seven minutes of stage time. While we did learn valuable lessons from the showcase, neither of us made the industry contacts we had expected. I got my agent off a lead on a casting website about eight months after I left acting class. It was a chance to perform, but we had to pay for it. The lesson: invest in something I really believe in and will give me something in exchange.

So I've done a few plays over the past few months and that was fun. Met some great people, performed original works. My financial investment in each piece was under $200 (costumes, promo for the show, personal promo like I blogged about before), the time spent on outside stuff was under ten hours. (I tend not to count rehearsal time in my investment, even though I guess I could.) I've looked into pay-for-play theatre groups which cost a lot less than that showcase, but I don't know that I'll get to call all the shots I want and get the juicy roles to play until I "paid my dues," and I got sick of the phrase "pay your dues" in college. I don't mind playing nice with the other kids, but I prefer to play at my house when I can.

So Andrew and I collaborated on this story. (He's the best person for me to collaborate with, by the way. Two peas in a pod.) We talked about what I wanted in a role (chance to fart around on my guitar, swearing, wearing boxer shorts, a sensitive scene and not too many lines), and we talked about what we wanted in a show. What would showcase some of what I do, what would showcase his fantastic writing style. We also considered what would showcase the talents of the other people we involved so they could really shine. We knew we wouldn't pay them and we knew they'd have to make some investment in costumes and props.

We came up with what we thought would be the best piece to showcase the talents of everyone involved. We've even got demos for three bands for pre-show and post-show music. We've borrowed a lot of stuff and recycled crap we had at home. Andrew had his dad making calls to get us some donations for the cost of the first night of the theatre. The total expense for us will be about what we spent on the showcase, but we feel better about the investment, and we'll at least get enough back from the second night's admission to pay for the first night of Andrew's next project, Sonny. I'd gladly go my own way for another experience like this.

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