September 17, 2021: What TheaterMakers Are Talking About This Week

Here’s what TheaterMakers were talking about this week . . .

 

1 – Broadway’s Biggest Reopening Yet

A major welcome home is due for the companies of Wicked, Hamilton, The Lion King, Chicago, and Lackawanna Blues as they reopen for the first time since March 2020. Make sure you get yourselves to these shows and continue to support live theater! 

Read more: www.playbill.com 

2 – Drama League Songwriting Contest

Calling all songwriters! Here’s your chance to be a part of history with The Drama League. Find out all contest rules, regulations, and prizes below. Not a songwriter? Share this blog with a theatermaker in your life who is!

Read more: www.playbill.com 

3 – Experimenting with Is This A Room, Dana H, and PassOver

Us theatermakers know that Broadway has always been the place for creative experimentation. And that’s not stopping any time soon! Get inspired by how Pass Over, Is This a Room, and Dana H are continuing to move that experimentation forward this season.

Read more: www.nytimes.com  

4 – Digital Theater 

There’s no denying that digital theater had a major jump start during the pandemic. From TikTok, Clubhouse, Zoom, there is an avenue for almost any production you can imagine. And its legacy is just beginning. Have you created digital theater before? 

Read more: www.insider.com  

5 – Non-profit Vax Req Database

Not in NYC but want to keep up with COVID-regulations in the arts? Stay up to date with the policies across all arts organizations below so you can plan your trips to the theater accordingly. 

Read more: www.artshacker.com 

Fun on a Friday: 

Watch Lin-Manuel Miranda give the curtain speech at the first Broadway performance of Hamilton in over a year and a half (and grab some tissues while you’re at it!). 

Watch the video here:

 

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Why We Keep Watching SVU (And What We Can Learn From It)

If you’re like me, then you have access to over 1,000 channels of television, streaming and more.

And yet, somehow, you always wind up back on Law & Order: SVU  (Insert “dum, dum” sound effect here).

Why is that?  What does Benson (and sometimes Stabler) have that keeps us coming back?  

Here are three reasons why SVU has had a spell on us for over 22 (!) years and how you can apply their tricks to your shows:

  1. The stakes can’t get any higher.

For a drama to be successful, it needs to be, well, dramatic.  That means the stakes need to be high for the hero.  

Well, Law & Order, like all police dramas, is life or death.  Literally.  (So are medical dramas – which is why they also make popular TV shows.)  The highest of high stakes is in the DNA of every single episode.  You know you’re signing up for a heart-rate-racing story when you turn on the channel.

Your show may not be a police drama . . . but whatever the conflict is, it needs to FEEL like life or death for your protagonist, even when it’s not.

  1. The objective is clear.  And the outcome clearer.

“What does your hero want,” is a common note I’ve given to others AND to myself when reviewing scripts.  Well, in SVU, there’s a crime at the top of every episode.  So what does our hero(s) want?  To catch the criminal.  That’s it.  You know what the want is before the show even starts!  

And if that wasn’t enough, at the end of the show, a judge declares the criminal guilty or innocent.  End of story and end of episode.  The audience has the cathartic resolution that it craves in all dramas in one those words or the other.

It’s the clearest arc there is.  There’s no question if the hero got what they wanted.  Or not.  And that clarity satisfies the audience in a way that many shows don’t.

In your plays and musicals, make sure your resolution is as clear as a judge’s verdict.  Your ending doesn’t have to be a happy one, but it has to be clear.

  1. Each episode exists on its own. 

SVU is episodic.  There’s a new plot every week.  It’s like, well, a new play, every single week.  Sure, same main characters.  Same want.  Same resolution.  

But new story.  

It’s both familiar, but brand new.  Every time you tune in.  You don’t need to have watched for 22 years to enjoy the next episode.

Does that mean your play or musical needs to have 22 previous versions to work?  No, of course not.  But the takeaway here is if you do NOT have 22 years of history, then you need to make sure your story hooks your audience deep and FAST.  Otherwise, they’ll wriggle off the hook.  

And if all that wasn’t enough . . .

Here’s a FOURTH reason why SVU captures our attention like Benson captures criminials.

  1. Ripped from the you-know-where.

SVU has a “true crime” feel by using real life stories as its source material.  That’s right, just like so many Broadway shows, SVU is an adaptation.  And not only does SVU benefit from having a factual story as a foundation to build open, the “real life” spookiness of the plot, makes an audience lean in just a little closer and say, “This actually happened!”

When creating plays or musicals, look to see what YOU can adapt – whether’s that’s a movie or newspaper article . . . or even an event from your own life.

So, if you want to create a SVU like “show” just following these simple steps:

  • Make it life or death, even if it’s not life or death.
  • Make the hero’s want clear and whether they get they want or not even clearer.
  • Hook your audience in the first few pages, and don’t let go.
  • Find something to adapt . . . and the more real you can make it feel (even if it’s not real at all), the better.

What are your reasons for watching SVU?  Or your favorite TV show?  Talk about it now in our Facebook group for TheaterMakers.

“Places, Please.”

At the TheaterMakersSummit last year, with over 1,000 people present, we made a prediction.

We made a prediction by choosing the theme of THIS YEAR’s summit a year in advance.

With no vaccines available then, we still believed that the theater would be back this fall.  

So we chose, as our theme . . . “Places, please!”

Fun, right?

And we were wrong. 

Because as of RIGHT NOW, there have already been FOUR Broadway shows running, many National Tours and International Productions, and countless regional and community theater productions.

We may not be back at 100%, but the theater is back.

We’re not going to change our theme.  Because we still believe there is a lot to do to prepare for the return of the theater on Broadway and all over the world.  And a lot to do to make sure that our return produces more theater and better theater . . . for all our audiences and our TheaterMakers as well.

And this year’s Summit looks to be our biggest and best yet.  It should be . . . after all it’s our 5-Year Anniversary!

We’ve got a ton of terrific speakers lined up already including:

  • Douglas Lyons
  • Andrew Lippa
  • Steve H. Broadnax III
  • Brian Moreland
  • Alie B. Gorrie
  • Jacob Stuckelman
  • Sammi Cannold
  • David Korins
  • Georgia Stitt
  • Rashad V. Chambers
  • JJ Maley
  • Dori Berinstein
  • Pun Bandhu
  • Cody Renard Richard
  • Sierra Boggess
  • Dede Ayite
  • Tom Kirdahy
  • Ron Simons

And BY REQUEST panels with

  • Broadway’s Lead Producers
  • Playwrights who are writing for television and other mediums
  • the next generation of Broadway Producers
  • 4 niches that have found their audiences
  • “How It Got To Broadway” case studies
  • Broadway Investors

Oh, and get this new feature we just added . . . “A PITCHING BOOTH!”  Yep, based on the ol’ carney concept of a “Kissing Booth”, we’re giving you a chance for you to line up and quickly pitch your show (or your resume) to Producers, Agents, Investors and more.  Hopefully, you’ll get some love in return. 

(And plan on some IN-PERSON mixers too.)

The Summit is on November 6th and 7th, with a bonus day on the 8th complete with sessions and intensives for those looking for an extra dose of inspiration and education. You can get your ticket now here.  And make sure you do before October 1, because the prices go up the closer we get to the date.

The Summit is my favorite event of the year.  I love theater people . . . and besides an opening night, there is just no other opportunity to get so many people who love the theater and love making theater in one place.

I hope you join us.
To see the full list of speakers, click here.

Podcast Episode #250: An Important Announcement

ESTIMATED LISTENING TIME OF THIS EPISODE: 4 Minutes

LISTEN WHEREVER YOU LISTEN TO PODCASTS:

 

ABOUT THIS EPISODE:

After 6.5 years of podcastin’ with our industry’s greatest theatermakers, I’m putting down the microphone . . . for now.

Stay subscribed because there’s always something up my sleeve! And if you’re ever looking for encouragement or inspiration to keep goin’, I highly recommend any of these 250 episodes. 

My mission is to get more people talking about the theater.  The more people talking about it, the more people who want to make it, perform it, support it, etc.  And that’s how theater not only survives, but thrives.

I thank you and the theater thanks you!

AFTER YOU LISTEN:

  • FOLLOW The Producer’s Perspective on Apple Podcast (it’s FREE!)
  • REVIEW the Podcast on Apple Podcast (it’s the biggest compliment you can give)
  • SHARE this episode with your friends!

JOIN the TheaterMakers Facebook Group

Farewell To The Leader and Legend, Liz McCann (1931-2021)

What we forget about the theater, and especially Broadway, is that it’s not that old of an industry.

And the people who built it are still among us.

Sadly, we lost one of the pioneering leaders that made the theater a better place for audiences, artists, and for other people just like her.

Liz McCann, winner of 9 Tony Awards, and one of the first female Producers on the boards, passed away yesterday.

She was a producing giant. Starting her career as a production assistant and working her way into rooms where people told her she didn’t below. And then proving to them and to the world, that not only did she below, but she deserved to rule the room.

Her IBDB page reads like a menu at a diner . . . it goes on and on. From The Dresser to Indecent to A View From The Bridge and her many plays with Albee . . . she forever changed the theater with who and what she supported.

I never worked with her directly. And we weren’t close by any means. But that didn’t stop her from sending me an encouraging email now and then. Especially when things weren’t going well.

When we announced the premature closure of Gettin’ The Band Back Together, I got this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was as if she was saying, “Hey – you did good. It happens to all of us. Some shows will work.  Some shows won’t. It has happened to me 100 times. Keep going.”

And I remember exactly where I was when I got that email. And it was like a steroid shot to my day . . . and was one of the many ways Liz and her incredible career has inspired me to, well, keep going.

I can only hope that one day I have 10% of the impact that Liz did on the theater.

Rest in Peace, dear Liz.

But something tells me you’re not resting at all . . . something tells me you’re ruling that room up there as well.

As you should.
To read more about Liz’s career, read her NY Times obituary here.

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