This Post Mortem could mean no Mortem for so many.

The Broadway community is an incredibly tight knit family, albeit a little dysfunctional.  We’re all pulling for each other, because deep down the theater, any theater, whether it’s yours, mine or someone else’s, means so much to us.

At the same time, we can be more back-stabbing than a bunch of beauty pageant contestants in a contest where  George Clooney and a lifetime supply of Sephora is the Grand Prize.

And because of that competitive spirit, one of the things we don’t do very well is . . . cue the 2nd grade schoolteacher in me . . . share.

Here’s an idea that I think could benefit each and every one of us working today, as well as the ones working tomorrow.

Lots of Broadway shows close every year.  Some after a few weeks, some after a few months, and some after several years.  What if, after each closing, the Lead Producer held an informal Post Mortem to talk about what he/she did, and what went right and what went wrong?  You know, like a morning after Post-Mortem breakfast . . . or lunch where The Producer could discuss what best advertising practices, what he/she would do again, and what he/she wouldn’t touch with someone else’s show.

Sounds fun, right?  Yes!  And so educational.

Imagine if you were interested in producing a limited run revival of a Shakespearean play on Broadway . . . wouldn’t you be interested in learning some of my lessons from Macbeth?   I know, I know, some of my peers are thinking . . . “But I don’t wanna share!  I don’t wanna share!  Please don’t make me share!”

Well, you’d only have to share what you would want to share.  You’d lead the discussion.  And by you helping out your peers, they may be more inclined to lead a Post Mortem on their star-driven musical, when you have a star-driven musical on your slate.

Think about the efficiencies that could be created.  Think about the money that could be saved.

And think about the money that could be made . . .

Yep, you heard it.

Because what I would propose is that each of these mini-lectures would be made into a case-study document that could be sold online to others interested in learning from your right and wrong moves (You know, like cool orgs like Harvard Business Review do).  And that money could go back to your investors, or to support educational programs, etc.

There are a ton of different ways to spin this into educational gold.  In truth, I think this is a Broadway League idea.  They could sponsor these morning-after-post-mortems for their members.  And we’d help create smarter and stronger producing peers . . . and maybe build stronger producer relationships in the process.  Oh, and to think what tomorrow’s Producers could learn.

In every other industry, PMs and Case Studies are part of everyday operations.  It’s about time it’s part of ours.

Until this idea becomes a reality, I vow this . . . starting with the next show I produce, I’ll start writing “My Post Mortem:  10 Things I Learned From SHOW NAME” blogs, so you can glean a little something specific from my journeys.

But you have to promise to do the same.  That’s what sharing is all about.


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  • KENI FINE says:

    Great idea. I’m in.

  • cdthomas says:

    In the military, it’s called Lessons Learned, to make it forward-facing, instead of discussing a death.

  • Heather Davies says:

    Yes! A great idea- let’s work smarter, together! I’m in- As a director I do this all the time on my own… Thanks Ken!

  • an interesting proposal. for one , I’m shocked that MacB wasn’tva hit!

  • Sue says:

    Please blog about lessons learned from MacBeth! And yes, Post Mortems is a great idea. Maybe call it something less chilling… How about “The Morning After”?

  • Judy says:

    Brilliant!!! I hail from Chicago where we did share and collaborate. And I moved southward to a theater community that is very selfish and competitive and does not share – ever! I’m hoping to make a difference here, so I can’t wait to hear your first Post Mortem. Thanks for sharing your wisdom with the world. It is much appreciated.

  • Gioia says:

    Ingenious idea, fun and cathartic too.

  • Steve Conners says:

    Well, in theory, it sounds good. After all they investigate after a plane crashes. They don’t seem to do investigations after the successful flights. In reality, only glaring mistakes push the airline industry forward. Yet, there are more crashes and many more successful flights. Luck is the real factor. A science you’re talking about? I think not.-sjc

  • Anna says:

    I love it! This is an amazing idea.

  • Rich says:

    I’m in agreement with you and the majority of comments, this is a fine idea! It will benefit investors as well as competitors & theater generally. But don’t wait…should start with Godspell & Macbeth immediately.

  • Paula says:

    Like Lessons Learned in the military, in education we say, “What did I learn from this?” The
    Morning After sounds like the morning after pill.
    You have another great idea.

  • Tom Atkins says:

    York Theatre Royal (UK) have this built into their production process – along with dates for model box presentation, first day of rehearsals, show run dates, there is also an evaluation day date there right from the start. This happens for every production and they look thoroughly at sales, audiences, process and all other elements. It’s a great idea, and works in practice too.

  • Adam says:

    It’s a great concept, done regularly in my business… No reason not to adopt in production.. Thanks Ken!

  • Malini says:

    I do this after every project so I know what not to do or expand up in the upcoming project!

  • Rachel says:

    As a student, I think it would be incredibly helpful and educational if producers or companies would do this after runs ended. There are only so many resources and people that are available to students but opening a forum or mini lecture– then even creating an educational series from it can bring all future theatre productions and producers to reach higher goals and achievements.

  • Sharon says:

    How would folks get information about the project?

  • Adam Grosswirth says:

    You basically just described a National Alliance for Musical Theatre conference!

  • Meredith says:

    Sounds good! When is the Macbeth PM?

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