Monday, February 25, 2013

The First Time I Started a Theatre Company Prt. 1

So I've had the opportunity to share with you guys some ideas about what I like and dislike about the theatre world and habits of small town theatre artists. But I haven't been telling a lot of stories from my own experiences. Well let me tell you about how I got into the world of theatre producing in the first place.

When I first thought that I wanted to start my own theatre company I started in the worst way imaginable. I took a load of money I had stashed away, got a couple of my friends from the Theatre Department from APSU, and started a non-profit theatre company out of pocket. I didn't learn until much later that that was one of the stupidest decisions out there.
A scene from Fronkensteen's first production ever!

Thus started Fronkensteen Experimental Theatre Group. There were parts about it that I really liked, we started a playwright's group called Inklings, had a core group of writers turning out scripts, and directors and actors wiling to jump at a chance to work. We did an opening season of four productions and I wouldn't trade those experiences for anything in the world. Mainly because I learned a lot of things about what not to do. We were young and crazy, we performed in the bottom of a hippie night club and couldn't even fill the forty seats that we were playing for. The one great show that we had had half full audiences. And I fell into the trap that a lot of Jack of All Trades get into...I was only one person and I couldn't trust the people working with me to do their jobs to my high standards.

The other problem that we had is that I and my business partner could never get together on key issues. I never wanted to pay for anything I didn't want to and he wanted to spend money like it was going out of style. He wanted to do more adult style productions and I just wanted to do the plays that I was writing. We were the two most prolific of the playwrights so we were the two that were expected to fill out a season. We were on opposite ends of the spectrum and the people in the middle just didn't know what to with us. We would have epic arguments that made me wonder if we were business partners or dating.
Rehearsal for Fronkensteen's Third production in my front yard. We rehearsed whereever I could find open space.
My biggest mistake In this season was that I was trusting so many people to do a job that I could have done in my sleep and because I never sat down with my group and started a capitalization campaign or created a business plan or mission statement. We were just crazy kids who wanted the resume experience fresh out of college and didn't know about any of the business of running a company.

Watch how the story continues with our second season next week...

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