Top 10 Takeaways from our TheaterMaker Super Conference

In case you haven’t heard, we had a giant TheaterMaker conference this past weekend.

(And in case you didn’t get that joke – you probably aren’t on our email list – because we sent a whole bunch of emails about it.)

The reason why we so passionately encourage all you Writers, Producers, Investors, Directors, Designers and anyone who makes theater to come is simple.  We know for a fact that as a result of getting together in the room with other like-minded TheaterMakers . . . more theater gets made.  Period.  We know this.  Because people who come to the conference tell us.

One of our greatest success stories yet happened DURING this conference!  A TheaterMaker from New Hampshire asked me a question about how to get her middle school musical produced, and I gave her a couple of tips . . . and this action-fueled artrepreneur called someone on the next networking break . . . and boom . . . she got her show BOOKED!  I mean . . . mic drop!!!

The conference included Broadway A-list Producers, Directors, Press Reps, and more on panels like Dramaturgy, Readings, and Diversity (which I am so proud to say was one of the most heavily attended panels AND the longest – what a conversation).

In case you missed the conference, I pulled 10 Takeaway from some of the talks which are below.   And while reading them will never be the same as hearing them live, seated next to more than 400 fellow TheaterMakers, I hope they give you a little steroid shot of inspiration and education to get you to go out there and make more theater.

Enjoy!

  1. “With ‘yes and…’ we get to create what comes next.” – Stephanie J. Block
  2. “You deserve a place at the table.” – Joe Iconis
  3. “Remember to stay calm. Getting angry does not help anyone hear your point. Educate with kindness.” – Arvind Ethan David, Diversity In The Arts
  4. “Casting Directors are in service of the collective imagination of the creative team. They are only trying to help bring your ideas and visions to life.” – Tara Rubin, Casting Superpowers Share How They Cast a Project And What the Right Cast Can Do For You
  5. “There’s never going to be a “perfect piece” so readjust the weight you give critics’ opinions.” – Jamil Jude, Navigating the Collaborative Process
  6. “When it comes to branding, remain consistent. Stay SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely).” – Lori Rosolowsky, How To Market Your Project To Regional Theaters Across The Country
  7. “Don’t be intimidated to introduce yourself to someone in the creative field. We’re all trying to do the same thing – create great art!” – Ken Davenport, Get Your Show Off The Ground
  8. “Know your WHY. Trust yourself. Believe in your material. And be concise in your pitch.” – Larry Rogowsky, Practice Your Pitch Session
  9. “Every play is different. Every playwright is different. In order to have the most productive partnership, it is the dramaturg’s job to know what the needs of the playwright are and how/when to deliver feedback.” – Jill Rafson, What is a Dramaturg and When/Why You Need One
  10. “No more waiting to sit at the table. Show up and take your seat at the table.” – David Caparelliotis, Casting Superpowers Share How They Cast a Project And What the Right Cast Can Do For You

Want to hear and see some of the panels that folks were raving about it?  We recorded them!  Click here to see how you can get them.

And we will see you next year!!!

Community.

People ask me all the time what a Producer actually does.

My new answer?  I get people in a room.

That’s it!

I get Writers in a room.  I get Directors in a room.  I get Actors in a room.  And when the right combination of people and passion mix together . . . boom . . . a magnificent thing is created.

The trick is . . . there are passionate and talented TheaterMakers all over the WORLD who want to be in a room with other folks just like them.

I know that because we’re going on 11 years with this blog and 5 with the podcast, and you wouldn’t believe where some of our e-traffic comes from (Russia, South Africa . . . Sri Lanka anyone?).

That’s why a couple of years ago I created an e-room for Writers, Producers, Investors, Actors and all kinds of Theater Makers to gather called TheProducersPerspectivePRO.

Since then, this community, just like the popularity of theater itself, has grown more than I ever could have imagined.   And when things grow, they take on a life of their own . . . and it’s important to change as the thing you’ve created changes (I’m already learning this as a new parent!).

About six months ago, we realized we weren’t TheProducersPerspectivePRO anymore.  We weren’t just an offshoot of the blog for people looking for more education.

We were a new community of theatrical artrepreneurs who were looking to learn, grow, gather and . . . make more @#$%.

That’s why we just retired PRO and launched a brand-spankin’ new community with a new look, new content, and a new mission to help all the TheaterMakers out there accomplish their theatrical goals, no matter what your discipline.

You may not be IN an actual room, but it’s the next best thing.  And we know, for a fact, that TheProducerPerspectivePRO helped launch a whole bunch of shows just by gathering passionate like-minded people together online.

And this brand new community will do the same . . . but on steroids.

So if you’re a TheaterMaker . . . or even better, want to be one . . . join us.

There’s no other place like it on the web.

And we can all help each other do what we all want to do more than anything . . . Make theater.

Check out the new TheaterMakersStudio.com here.

We’ve also added a new Production Team Database featuring Actors, Directors, Producers, Playwrights and more from across the country. To peruse the free database or submit yourself, click here.

Podcast Episode 202: The Dramaturg for Disney, Hadestown and more, Ken Cerniglia

I’m gonna be honest . . . I never liked the idea of a dramaturg.  “That’s what a Director is for,” I thought. “And a Producer!”

Then, I realized that my “dislike” of something was based on the fact that I really didn’t understand what the heck a dramaturg was.  (Most things in life that we don’t like (including people, btw) are just because we don’t know what they are really about.)

That’s why I decided to have one of the leading dramaturgs in our business, Mr. Ken Cerniglia on the podcast to help explain to me and to all of us TheaterMakers exactly what a dramaturg does and why they are so important for every show, from a new play in a regional theater to a big ol’ Broadway show.

Listen in and hear Ken talk about:

  • What a dramaturg is and how you become one.
  • The most common note he gives to writers.
  • What his 15 years at Disney taught him about successful storytelling.
  • How Hadestown morphed over the years and how he assisted in the process, without over-assisting in the process.
  • The common elements that all stories for the stage need to be “successful.”

If you’re a Writer, Director, Producer or anyone with a script, this podcast has buckets of tips on how to make that script better.

So listen to the other Ken now!

  • Click here to listen on our site!
  • Listen to it on iTunes here. (And if you like the podcast, give it a great review while you’re there!)
  • Download it here.

P.S.  Ken has just agreed to lead one of our Writer’s Groups this year!  Click here to apply today!

This week’s #SongWriterOfTheWeek is Ben Diskant and Sami Horneff! Today we’re playing a song from their musical The Pirate Princess, “We Could Be Pirates”. If you like what you hear and want to learn more, check out www.bendiskant.com and www.samihorneff.com.

My pal Justin Guarini (you may have met him at The Super Conference this weekend) wants to help you nail your next audition! Justin will help you create a unique and memorable vocal performance that blows your competition out of the water. Visit www.JustinGuarini.com for more information!

Why 90% of Actors Are Doing it Wrong.

What has always been a surprise to me is the amount of the emails I receive from Actors around the world looking for a tip on how to break into the biz . . . and fast.

In fact, do you know what the most popular blog that I’ve ever written is?  No, it’s not the crowdfunded Godspell, or the live-streamed Daddy Long Legs.

It’s this one, which is all about Actors.

I don’t know why I’m so surprised.  While this blog may be called TheProducersPerspective, it’s for all artrepreneurs out there looking for a little insight into our biz that could give them a leg (and an arm) up.  Because they’re gonna need it!

And since the acting world is much more competitive than any other profession in our industry (thanks to the sheer volume of Actors looking to make it), it only makes sense that they’d be seeking out a way to increase their odds of success.

Which is why I’m writing this blog today . . . to tell those Actors that 90% are doing it wrong.

Now granted, I may be preaching to the converted here, because if you’re already one of my blog readers, then you’re probably in the 10%.

But if not, let me give you a tip that’ll put you on the fast track to success.

Ready?  And if you’re an Actor, and can’t stand a little tough love, STOP reading here.

Ok?  Good.

Here’s what you should do, that has worked for countless others, and WILL work for countless more . . . and hopefully you.

Create your own @#$%.

The ol’ cliche of an Actor taking a job as a “waiter” has always had a double meaning for me.  Because if you are just auditioning for OTHER people’s shows and movies and plays with OTHER people’s songs and scripts . . . then you’ll just be “waiting” until you fit someone else’s idea of who you’re right for.

And you could end up waiting forever . . . regardless of your talent.  (Painful thought, right?)

Now, you could also “get discovered” but those odds are longer than recouping a revival of Moose Murders.

So don’t chase Directors and Agents and Casting Directors and Producers.

Make them chase you.

And how you do that . . . is by creating your own @#$%.

It probably won’t be great at first.  But keep doing it. And you’ll get better.  And then people will find you.

This isn’t a new concept.  I’m not blog-preaching about this today because of the recent rise of the YouTube or Instagram celebrity (although that is one way to create your own @#$%).

Creating stuff is why so many stand-up comedians have gone on to great success.

Steve Martin, Robin Williams, and Whoopi Goldberg all started making up their own punchlines . . . which got people laughing and got people talking . . . and got them roles on stage and screen.  (And they ALL transitioned from comedy to serious work, so don’t think this is just about the funny folks.)

But it’s not just comedians.

What about Matt Damon and Ben Affleck . . . who were struggling actors until they sat down and wrote Good Will Hunting.

And don’t get me started about Sylvestor Stallone, who refused an offer to buy his original screenplay to Rocky (yep – you forgot he wrote it, didn’t you) because the studio wouldn’t let him play the lead (they came around).

Think this is a wave of the past?

What about Phoebe Waller-Bridge and her 8,000 Emmy Awards for Fleabag . . . which started as a one-woman show . . . just like Nia Vardalos’s Big Fat Greek Wedding or Chazz Palminteri’s A Bronx Tale.

Making stuff is by far the fastest way for an Actor to make it.

I’m not saying it’s easy.  But unlike the dreadful audition process, in which so many decisions are made that have nothing to do with you or your talent . . . making stuff, whether that’s a one person show or a web series or a stand up routine, is something you can control.

This is how you design a part that no one else in the world could be right for.  So you have ZERO competition.

And you know what the cool thing is?  90% of the actors out there aren’t doing this.  So immediately you’re going to stand out.

And what stands out . . . is what “sells.”

So if you’re an Actor . . . stop waiting and start making.

And actually, come to think about it . . . this concept isn’t just for Actors.  It’s for Directors, Designers or even Producers! (I got my start by creating my own shit – by producing three shows that I came up with . . . because I couldn’t get the rights to anything!)

Get creating.

– – – – –

Are you an Actor or any kind of artrepreneur that wants to learn how to create @#$%?  Click here to learn from the best.

Learn How To Write A Musical In Person from The Man Who Wrote The Book On It.

One of the first pieces of advice I give to writers struggling to improve their scripts is simple . . .

Read Jack Viertel’s The Secret Life of the American Musical.

It’s a genius book that breaks down the structure of the classic American musical.  It diagnoses problems in your own scripts by demonstrating how the masters did it.

I re-read it every year.

I’m also lucky enough to call Jack a peer and a friend.  And recently, while we were jawing over a new musical I was working on, I got to thinking . . . the book is great and all, but hearing him talk in person is priceless for anyone looking to get better.  And aren’t we all?

Since my mission is to help people like you get your shows off the ground, I asked Jack if he’d ever teach a LIVE workshop for my readers.

And he said yes.

So we’re doing it!

On Sunday, December 8th, from 2-6 PM, Mr. Jack Viertel, Broadway Producer, Writer, former Critic, now head of Encores (for a little while longer anyway) and so much more, will be teaching an intensive workshop on the structure of a musical.

It’s a four-hour class that will be split in two parts.  The first will be Jack deconstructing a musical for you like he does in his book, but more in-depth.

The second part . . . and oh this is where the fun begins . . . we’re hiring actors to play Julie Jordan and Billy Bigelow and they’re going to perform the famous “If I Loved You” scene.  Jack will go through it line by line, starting and stopping, to demonstrate why it is one of the most perfect scenes there is in all of musical theater . . . and how knowing why it’s so good, will help you write classic scenes of your own.

There will be time for questions, and a big networking opp as well.  So come!

This is a small workshop for the serious minded students of musical theater, so seats are limited.  Click here and get one today.

Whether you are a Producer, Director or of course, a writer . . . your career will thank you for it.

And I will see you there, and I can’t wait to learn more from this Musical Whisperer.

Date: December 8th

Time: 2pm-6pm

Location: Theater District

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