Friday, October 26, 2012

Rock it Out! Insights on Garageband Theatre

Congratulations if you are one of the thousands of college grads that just graduated with a degree in the performing arts you are now the proud owner of a new small business. It's called "New Young Performing Artist Enterprises". Let's face it the non-profit theatre world is declining and starving artists everywhere are huddled around waiting tables just waiting for someone to hire them and make it big. Newsflash! In the arts community in this recession you have to be your own boss and be the "architect of your own future". You are your own boss and it's your job to get yourself working in the arts in this world. But as a newbie fresh out of school with a degree what are you supposed to do to get work where you are?

Dress Rehearsal for Doctor Faustus by AP Playhouse, a student organization dedicated to student productions.

Rebecca Novick talks about this very thing in an article she wrote called "Please, Don't Start a Theatre Company!" In it she not only addresses the big problems facing the non-profit theatre world but outlines a way that apprentices in the field, (that's you and me) can get started. What follows are some borrowed points of hers and my two cents about how to work under what I call...

The Garage Band Theater

  • Don't get tied into a building!: When you're just starting out you're still learning the ropes of professional theatre. You haven't figured out how to effectively raise money for yourself much less get into a capital raising campaign for a building or maintain it. In the Garage Band Theater Method (or GBTM as it will be called from now on) the emphasis is on sustaining the people and not the structure. Spending your money on yourself and your fellow artists are the real investment you need.
  • Pursue your interests and your goals: This is the season in your life where you get to try the styles and projects that interest you while you can. This is where you can start shaping your resume as a foundation for the kind of work that you want to do for the rest of your life. The Performing Arts is not a good industry to have a bucket list. Do the list now and move on to even better things.
Rehearsal for Pied Piper by TOYS as small children's theatre group run by students.

  • Go Grassroots!: In this method you aren't going to start out with a big capital raising campaign or a multi-thousand dollar budget. Most likely you'll be funding your shows through bake sales and selling T-shirts and the ever important contributions from the family. Even then the money you make from ticket sales won't be enough to make you rich and famous. You're really looking for something called, "Economic Dignity" which is making enough money to make working in the arts a possibility for you. As you keep making money to stay in the arts you build the resume that will make people want to hire you.
  • Embrace the temporary: This is the Crux of the GBTM. You may have a small group of fellow artists that you work with now but that doesn't mean that you have to stay with them forever. Try throwing in your hat with different artists and doing different things. Maybe you work together for a year to support common interests and then you break up to work with other people. This helps you build a network that you will fall back on later in life when a friend that you worked with long ago calls to offer you a job with the company that they're currently working with. Keep the connections going but allow everyone to go their separate ways.
Getting together for Cataclysm: A showcase of six new ten-minute plays by local playwrights.

A Summary

Just remember that you're building a professional foundation for the rest of your life. Through establishing good relationships, a good resume, and good administrative habits you'll be ready to start building the structure of your professional career on the right foot.

Do you have any other ideas on how to run a Garage Band Theater? Any Questions? If so leave a comment below.

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