When it comes to putting together a theatrical production, the role of the producer is different, but no less important than that of the director. Producers are usually in charge of the financial, administrative and logistical tasks of a production, although they can also contribute in the creative aspect of the process. Read the steps below to learn how to produce your own play!
Part 1 of 2: Planning and organizing
Step 1. Find a script
You, the producer, are the very first person to start the process of creating a work. Before anything else can happen, you (or your team or both) must decide which work to produce. You could decide on a theater classic like Les Misérables, Death of a Salesman, Miss Saigon or A Mole in the Sun, well-known plays like these are frequently produced, even decades after their debut. However, you could also decide to debut with a new work. If this is the case, you should make a point of looking for quality scripts from talented writers, who you can find in a variety of places such as universities, theater companies, or through an agent or publisher.
Keep in mind that works are intellectual property and as such you will often have to pay royalties in order to use them. Be sure to contact the writer, his agent, or the copyright owner if the script you've chosen is not in the public domain
Step 2. Find a director
The director is the "boss" of the play when it comes to creative decisions. He directs the actors when they rehearse, he has the final say in aesthetic decisions such as props and set design, and in the end he will be the one who receives much of the glory (or scorn) that the play generates after being released. The producer is responsible for finding an appropriate director for the play. This could be a friend, a professional partner, or someone who's just starting out and shows a lot of potential. However, keep in mind that the director could always decline the invitation to direct or try to negotiate a higher rate. As a producer, it is your job to find replacement directors or participate in negotiations as necessary.
Some producers also take on the role of director. This is a huge burden of responsibility for a single person, so be cautious about taking on this dual role unless you have a lot of experience
Step 3. Find financing
One of the most important functions of the producer is to pay for the work. If you have enough resources to pay for the entire work yourself, you could choose to be its sole funder. However, many works are financed by a group of investors, wealthy people who hope to collect a percentage of the profits. In this case, it is your job as a producer to make a "selling proposition" of the work to investors, regardless of whether they are your personal friends or wealthy strangers, in an attempt to get them to agree to pay for it.
It's also your job to keep these investors happy and up-to-date throughout production, notifying them of production changes, new sales projections, and the like
Step 4. Find a location
The works need a physical space for rehearsals and presentations. As a producer, your job is to get this space for your production. This venue should house the technical aspects of your production (in terms of stage size, sound system, etc.) and should be large enough to accommodate your intended audience. Other aspects that you may need to consider are:
- The cost of using the premises. Different venues have different rules on how to share out ticket proceeds and the like.
- If the venue provides its own team of employees (ticket collectors, etc.).
- Whether or not the venue provides liability insurance.
- The aesthetic and acoustic qualities of the premises.
- The history of the premises.
Step 5. Schedule auditions
Every work needs a cast, even one-man ones. If you have good connections, you may have some actors in mind for certain roles in your production, in which case you could contact them directly to offer it to them. If not, you will need to schedule auditions. Be sure to publicize these auditions so potential actors know where and when to be to try and land a role in your production.
Focus your promotional efforts in places where actors are likely to meet such as theater companies, art schools, and groups with whom they are likely to be in contact with talent agencies
Step 6. Hire support staff
Actors aren't the only people working on a play at all. Stage hands, lighting and sound technicians, costume designers, choreographers and countless other support staff collaborate to make a successful production. As a producer, you will have to supervise the hiring of the support team, although you will not necessarily direct them in their daily tasks, as this is usually delegated to different administrators.
Keep in mind that, although many venues provide their own team of workers for the entrance, ticket offices and lounge, some do not and in these cases you will have to hire them on your own, in addition to the other members of the team
Step 7. Choose your cast
Generally, the director has the final say when it comes to the cast, as he is the one who will work with the actors to create the final product. However, depending on your relationship with the director, your opinion may have weight in the cast selection process, especially if you have already worked on the creative aspects of the theatrical production.
Part 2 of 2: Staging
Step 1. Schedule rehearsals
The plays require a lot of preparation and rehearsal to be ready and performed in front of an audience. Work with the director to establish a rigorous but reasonable schedule that gradually increases in intensity as opening night approaches. Take into account the price, the availability of the space to practice and the dates of the other events that are going to take place in the place of your choice. Some theater informational resources recommend scheduling at least 1 hour of rehearsal for each page in the script.
Make sure to set aside time at the end of your rehearsal program for technical rehearsals and at least one dress rehearsal. Technical rehearsals give the actors, director, and crew the opportunity to walk through the entire play and fix any problems in the technical aspect of the production: lights, sound, costumes, and special effects. Dress rehearsals consist of performing the play in its entirety as if an audience were watching without breaks or interruptions. For example, if an actor forgets his speech, the play should continue as it would in an actual performance
Step 2. Get liability insurance
Some venues have liability insurance on their theatrical productions, others do not. In the event that an actor or audience member is injured during the play, liability insurance packages cover the cost, protecting you and the venue from paying for it out of their pockets. Therefore, we recommend that you have liability insurance on most productions, especially those that have a lot of stunts, pyrotechnics, and the like.
Step 3. Coordinate the creation or purchase of scenery, costumes and props
Making specially designed props, sets, and costumes can take a long time. The construction of particularly complicated scenery; for example, it might have to be started even before the actors start rehearsing! As a producer, you will have to hire, coordinate and delegate designers and technicians to bring your work to life.
If your production has little capital, you don't necessarily have to create all the physical aspects of your work from scratch. You could, for example, organize a search for old and outdated clothing as a source for wardrobe. You could also ask for volunteers in the local community to help you build your sets. Theater can be an excellent opportunity to bring your community together for a fun and entertaining purpose
Step 4. Make a presentation schedule
Theatrical productions are generally not presented just once. Large productions in famous theaters can run many times a week for months, but even smaller productions often have a theatrical "tour" consisting of several performances. As a producer, you will have to decide on a performance schedule that takes into account holidays, your team's commitments, and market forces like peak and off-season seasons and the like.
Try to present your work for as long as you think you can sell enough tickets to generate income. If the play sells out, you have the possibility to add extra performances
Step 5. Advertise the work
Advertising is an essential part of the producer's job and is perhaps the most important factor in determining whether your venue will be packed on the day of the premiere. You should spread the word about your work with all methods within the limits of your budget. You could, for example, buy a TV and radio commercial, rent a commercial panel, or distribute flyers at local colleges. Depending on the size of your advertising resources, the money you spend on your production advertising budget can range from negligible to huge.
Not all of your promotional options cost money. If you can attract a local newspaper or news channel to your production for a report or story, you will get free publicity. In addition, the Internet offers many promotional options at no cost since social networks and email are completely free
Step 6. Supervise the work throughout its entire trajectory
Your producer duties don't end after opening night. While there should be little, if any, preparation or planning left, you will still be primarily responsible for nearly every aspect of the production of the work. Be prepared to solve problems as they arise. You might have to coordinate the repair or replacement of damaged props, eliminate scheduling conflicts by rescheduling presentations, and the like. It pays for your work to have a smooth, bumpy track record, so don't take an idle role after its premiere.
As noted above, one thing you will almost always have to do is keep your investors up-to-date on the status of the work, particularly with regard to their financial success. They may expect financial reports from you, which can be a stressful experience if the job doesn't make money
Step 7. Remunerate your team and investors
When your work starts (hopefully) making a profit from ticket sales, you'll have to start paying a percentage of the money earned to financial investors. Often times, the venue will ask for a substantial percentage of the ticket sales. As a producer, you will be in charge of distributing the money you earn so that it gets into the right hands. Regardless of whether your play is profitable or not, you will also need to ensure that your hard-working actors and production team are paid what they are owed.