How To: Produce Your Play

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How To: Produce Your Own Play

Every new writer in the theater field has the same trouble at first: how to get their first play produced. Being a writer and having that same hurdle to jump I know what many first time writers go though. You have a finished script in hand and you go off to theater executives and try to get someone to produce it. You will most likely hear, thanks for coming in or thanks for sending us your script but at this time we have our shows for this season and next. Many times producers and companies dont want to take chances on new writers. They are afraid your show may not make money for them and with producers fronting most of the money many dont take big risks unless they know you.


            If you are serious about working in the field of writing you may have to be the one who takes the first big risk before you are recognized in the writing and theater worlds. My first show was produced in Las Vegas after it won a writing contest. Shortly after that I moved home to Upstate NY where no one had ever seen my work. I ran into the same thing over and over again, no company would talk to me about production of my new show I had written. The show finally was produced, had many sell out nights, and has even been nominated for a best new production award. How did this all happen? Here goes:


            After being told many times that my show would not get produced I took things into my own hands. I said I would produce it myself, and that is what I did. You can do the same thing and here is what you need to know. Many smaller theaters and schools will rent out space for a production. Check around and see the best price you can get for a space. You will also have to look into rehearsal space as well. See if you can get a deal with both the performance and rehearsal space at the same place. It will cost you some money and you have to be willing to lose a few hundred and maybe a few thousand dollars in the process. If you know you have a great script it will be worth it and in the end you will have had a production of your show and will get your name out there. Building the recognition of your name will help get future scripts produced.


            After you secure a facility for rehearsal and production the next key to success is marketing. Many papers will post audition notices for free, contact them for where and who to send information to. Get the word out that you are casting for a new show. Create a buzz about the production, and get your friends to help as well. Post flyers at local schools and colleges. Once you hold the audition, hopefully you will have enough actors come that are talented that you can fill the roles. Dont get discouraged if at first you dont have a large turn-out. It is always best to hold a few days of auditions so you can let people have a chance to hear about it and make it to the audition. Once you have a cast now is the rehearsal time. If you are not sure you can or even want to direct by this time you should have been talking with friends or colleagues that are going to direct for you. Once the cast is selected let the director do the work with getting the blocking and look of the show together. You must trust the director after all you have selected them to direct your show. As the rehearsals are now underway for your first production you should feel pretty good about yourself. You have secured a theater space, selected a director and chosen a cast. Just a few weeks ago you did not know where or when, or if at all your show would be produced. Look at you know producing your own show.


            Now you should be worrying about more marketing at this point. You need an audience to see your production. Make flyers and posters up and go to area businesses and see if they post them for you, or if they will leave a few flyers in their employee break rooms. Send out a press release to all local media announcing your show, the cast and when it will be opening. Many papers and local news stations have calendars that they will include your production in. If your show is appropriate for school aged kids to see and families it wont hurt to send a letter out to area schools announcing your show as well. The trick is the more people who know about your show the better likelihood you have of selling out the show and getting people to see your show. Once they see your show and like it they will want to come back for more shows and you will start forming a base of fans for your productions.


            So here is a quick recap:

  • Dont get discouraged if producers from large theater companies turn you down. Many big names in theater have been turned down at one point in their careers.
  • If you cant get a theater company to produce your show, produce it yourself.
  • Have a friend involved in theater help with directing the show. If you dont have any friends who direct get the word out you are looking for a director of the show. Many college students would love to have the chance to direct.
  • Find a space for the production, contact smaller local theaters, high schools and even try coffee houses or restaurants some may open up at night for you to do a production there.
  • Get the word out on the auditions for the show. Hold a few auditions so people have a chance to come.
  • Promote, promote, promote. The more you promote the show the better. Marketing is the key to any successful venture and your play is no different.
  • Set goals for yourself: you want your show to be cast by this date, you want to get a theater by this date, and you want opening night to be by this date. If you have set goals for yourself the better chance you have at attaining the goals. Remember to set realistic goals as well, dont say you want your production up in a month, give it a few.


Once the run for your show ends you will either know this is for you or youll know it is not. The trick is trying everything once.


I hope this helps and when your show is produced let me know. Write to to let me know if this article has helped you in any way.

Got Theater? Project * Syracuse, NY * Las Vegas, NV * "Raising funds for charity through theater!"