Deciding what your theatre should do next is easy, right? Just find something fun and voila!...Eh, not so much. If you're feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of choosing a show, fret no more! This is what PAPA takes into consideration. Every theatre group is going to have their own criteria, and I'm sure the list goes on and on, but for the sake of your day I'll try and be brief...ish. :)
I've broken it into 6 categories, here are the first three:
· Size of PAPA as an organization
· Our physical theatre's size
· Demographics of talent and audience
PAPA as an organization is fairly small. We are also a non-profit so we have to make sure the royalties and expenses for the show aren't too high (copyright laws and all.) You won't get very far if you have found a show to do, but you're broke just from obtaining the rights to do it! It also wouldn't be too smart if a show was so grand in size that we burned out everyone on the board just trying to pull it off. You, of course, want to grow, expand, and challenge yourself, but gradually and always be smart about it. It's also better for the success of the show if the board members are all excited about what you have chosen, one person can't do it alone, so everyone has to be on board... haha see what I did there? ;)
Our physical theatre size is a HUGE part of why we rule out different shows. We will never be able to do “Phantom of the Opera,” for example, in our current space. Our stage is small and intimate, there are no wings (unless you make them with curtains or sets in which you cut into performing space) and there is no fly space (the rafters are quite low so no hanging chandeliers, or multi-level sets). Our stage is also higher than the audience as opposed to the audience being raked and the stage flat. It's not all bad, though! It was perfect when we did “Fiddler on the Roof” where the story can be told weaving in and out of the audience. It was very intimate, and the set was a sparse suggestion and very impactful! Having obstacles is just an excuse to get creative, so make sure you really think about all your options. Also be sure you go through the script with a fine tooth comb so you don't miss any stage directions that will have a huge impact on whether or not you can pull it off. For example "bookcase flips around to reveal hidden bar", might want to know about that.
A consideration we run into frequently is the fact that our demographics of people who live in the area does not line up with what a show calls for. South Pacific is a wonderful show! The Long Beach Peninsula, however, is not teeming with young males who want to do musical theatre (there are a ton of sailors needed) and some of the main characters are Pacific Islanders. However, our area is not very ethnically diverse. Now if you need to have a few women dressed as men, sometimes that works! However, you want to make sure you can still do the show justice, and aren't stretching it into the realm of unbelievable. We also have a large senior citizen population, so we can't expect to pick something that speaks mainly to teenagers and still have a sold out house. You also have to make sure your show is the right sophistication level, if your audience is mainly non-theatre people, doing a show with tons of theater references and Shakespeare language and jokes might not get a full house. Maybe you don't care about a full house you just want to challenge your audience? (We'll get to that in Part Two!)
I hope this first half was helpful! For those trying to chose a show for their community theatre, or those just wanting to know more about how PAPA works! Thanks for reading, and remember to look for part two next week!