It's been a year since I've blogged about the theatre...mostly because I spent the bulk of this last year opening a new performing space at a new address (shameless plug: it's located at 2115 N. Fremont Ave in Monterey, CA), seeing my son through his first year of high school, and having a generic, all American, mental breakdown. So, you know, the usual stuff...
While having two performing spaces isn't new for us, being able to perform shows in repertory is. Shows going at the same time present it's own set of problems. For example, it can stretch an already thin cache of volunteers to it's breaking point. Two costume budgets. Two venue rentals. It can turn otherwise sensible theatre owners into rooster participants at an illegal cockfight. It can also make investing into new show titles twice as expensive. Paying the rights for two shows in particular is a gamble and requires a whole lot of strategic thinking. Who will come to this show? What are we trying to say with this show? What is the deeper meaning of this show? Does this show fit with our brand?
Enter the fabulous play licensing company Original Works Publishing. If you are involved in theatre at any capacity; theatre owner, producer, dramaturg, director, actor, student, teacher...you can only benefit from knowing who this small but mighty company is.
Unlike the big licensing companies, there is a small staff who remembers who you are and can make suggestions tailored for your theatre style. Jason, our contact person, is delightful and I've often found myself chatting with him about theatre for an hour, even when I just called to get a quote. Love that. It makes me feel like this company understands that we are all just artists trying to make a go of this theatre thing and we are working together to make it happen. Yes, the big guys carry the more well known plays, but I'm telling you....THIS company is where the magical gems lie. The fresh, the raw, the organic....plays so new and wonderful, I swear you can see the playwrights sweat on the pages. It fires me up. And the licensing fees are less than the big guys.
Over our 14 years in existence, we have worked with every one of the mainstream licensing companies, and have also done 3 plays total from Original Works. Our most recent production of theirs was the delightful and heartfelt, but slightly absurdest "Bad Panda" by Megan Gogerty. I love silly-with-a-heart plays. I love to laugh and this play was funny. It also took a non threatening view of gender and species identity, and just made you feel good. Our experience with this show and specifically with Original Works as a company was just great. As soon as we were licensed for the show, Megan Gogerty the playwright was following my tweets on twitter. That in itself is kinda cool, but what makes it really super cool is that this now gave me access to ask about scenes and lines in her play. You see, our job as directors is to interpret as close as we can as to what the playwright is thinking and feeling and to project that to the audience. So, imagine my delight in being able to get any questions about intent answered. And that's what you get from authors represented by this company. (FYI, I tried to contact Dramatist playwright Stephen Adly Gurgis once and...nothin', but that's for a different blog...)
I wanted to write about this because if it weren't for other small companies, small companies wouldn't survive. I want to shout from the rooftops how important cross support from company to company is for our very survival. Negotiating the expenses of a small theatre can be tricky. Thank the theatre Gods we found another friend.
Visit them here.