Theater festivals have exploded in size and number over the last five years, just like film festivals.
The Edinburgh Fringe, NY Fringe, Minneapolis Fringe, Toronto Fringe, Midtown International (which announced their award nominations today, coincidentally), NYMF (which gave birth to ABz), and countless others were created to give new plays and musicals an easier entry point to production by covering a portion of the expenses and responsibilities, namely press/marketing and theater rent.
So getting into a festival makes your life easier, right?
Not so fast, fringe-meister.
Getting into a festival is like an actor getting an agent. You’ve still got to do most of the work, especially if you want to stand out.
Festivals are like buffets. All the shows are lined up next to each other. The quiche is next to the corn which is next to the strawberry Jello with the marshmallows.
While having all those choices sound too good to be true at first, they can be overwhelming to the consumer, especially if they are “new” dishes the diner has never tasted before. And remember, you can only eat so many in one sitting.
I mean, think about it . . . how many times have you been to a buffet and found yourself wandering around the bar trying to decide just what you should try.
That’s what a festival audience does.
And if you’re lucky enough to get on their plate, you’re probably just one of many portions.
With so many choices, it’s hard for the Jello to stand out.
Your job as a Producer in a festival is to make your show seem like a waiter-served entrée that costs a lot more than the flat rate, all you can eat, warming tray heated, slightly stale, other options.
You can’t just be one of the choices. You have to make yourself the choice; the one that makes them come back for seconds.
How do you do it?
Don’t do what the other shows do.
Do more. And do different.