Monday, March 4, 2013

The First Time I started a Theatre Company Prt. 2

So last week I started the story about how I first started to create a theatre company. Today I want to finish the story. When we left off our first season had gone to pot with little audience and little money.
Fronkensteen's first Tech Director appyling make-up for a show.

It wasn't just everyone else's fault that the first season sucked.  I had a lot of blame on me. I promised a lot of services that we couldn't provide, I didn't understand capitalization or finance as much as I should have. Because I was using my own money I was afraid of spending the kind of money that we needed and because I didn't know all of the legalities I was afraid of even making money. 

I took a lot of lessons from that first season and made a go at a second. We did open submissions and tried to do a great season. We threw ourselves at the first production of a very good show and we finally had our act together doing it. The actors were great, the directing was great, and the set was actually good. But we had a horrible turnout and even worse finances. A lot of our board members walked out and our venue told us that we were more trouble than we were worth. The annual report for the nonprofit lapsed and before we knew it Fronkensteen Experimental Theatre Group was dissolved.

This is a story not of failure but of lessons learned the hard way.  The problem with enrolling in the school of hard knocks in contrast to a university setting is that the knocks get harder. You still learn through error and failure but it's harder to get up after things like that. The name of the game is "Hard knocks" for a reason.

Rehearsal for a show in my front yard.
Now we're trying again. Fronkensteen Experimental Theatre Group has become Fronkensteen Theatre Productions. We're a for profit and working on a production by production basis. We being me. The biggest lie I always told myself was that it was "we". Now I'm the sole proprietor. Friends and partners will come and go but it's always just me.

In all this I had forgotten that the idea I was starting off of was getting myself work and trying to support myself in the arts. I tried to follow what everyone else was doing and didn't know how much it was going to cost me. I didn't know that I was continuing my education in the theatre world. And the first motto of Hard Knocks 101 is, "To thine own self be true".

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