Should you do a full reading of your show to raise money?

One of the first steps of every show’s developmental process is the reading.  Put a director in a room with some cast members, give ’em a few hours of rehearsal and then bam . . . put ’em up in front of a bunch of people and pray they give you money, right?


Of course, we all hope that whenever you present your material to an audience, someone is going to raise their hand (and their checkbook) and say . . . “I’m in!”

And it does happen.

But honestly, I don’t think that should be a Producer’s primary intention of producing a reading.

The primary reason for a reading should always be to assess how the show is working creatively.  That’s why you present the full production . . . to see how it flows from beginning to end, and to get feedback from your peers and fellow artists (who, according to this great book, are much better at predicting success than any focus group).

So what do you do if you want/need to raise money?

Of course, you still need to present your material to potential investors.  There’s no doubt that when people experience your product, they are more likely to invest in that product.

So you do have to show it to them.

But maybe, a 2.5 hour reading, under fluorescent lights, in a plain-jane rehearsal room, with no costumes, on folding chairs, in the middle of the afternoon ain’t the best way to get people to write a check . . . especially if your show is still in its awkward phase (as most shows are when they’re being “read”).

But what about a teaser . . . what about 45 minutes of your best material?  Or 30 minutes.  Maybe even 20?

You’re not going to get the full flow of the show, but I’ve got this feeling that a whole bunch of audience members may be thankful that they can see what you got, and get themselves back to their office before half the day is gone.

And since your show probably isn’t perfect yet, why show people the lumps?

We know that audiences are demanding more efficient entertainment (which is a fancy way of saying shorter).

Attendees of readings are no different.

And the best way to hook them may be to take a lesson from Gypsy herself.  Don’t show them everything.  Tease them until they’re begging for more.

I’m doing a 45-minute presentation in a few weeks.  I’ll let you know how it goes.


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