Podcast Episode #237: New Destination Only For TheaterMakers

ESTIMATED LISTENING TIME OF THIS EPISODE:  12 Minutes

 

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ABOUT THIS EPISODE:

When I was in college at Tisch, I, like every other student at NYU, tried to get into nightclubs on the weekend.

And for some reason, the fancy door people, with their super chic outfits, always turned me away. In hindsight, it might have something to do with my khaki pants from The Gap, white shirt from The Gap and blue blazer . . . from JCPenney.

I did get into one. Once. One of the ladies from my acting class at Strasberg took pity on me, and escorted me past the velvet rope on her arm. (You know who you are, and I’m still thankful.)

When I got inside, well, things got worse. 

Listen to this week’s episode to find out what happened AND how a nightclub inspired me to create a new place for the cool theater people.

 

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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.

 

The biggest compliment you can give me is by sharing this podcast.

 

I thank you and the theater thanks you!

Katori Hall wins Pulitzer Prize for The Hot Wing King

In case you missed the news last week, there was indeed a winner this year for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama!

(There have been several years where the award was not given – and in a year where there wasn’t a lot of theater as we usually know it – there was some worry that it’d get skipped again.)

But nope.  We have a winner!

Katori Hall’s play The Hot Wing King, “the story of two gay black men in Memphis, Tennessee navigating love, life, and family” picked up one of the most coveted awards in the world, the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in Drama.

The show opened at Signature Theater Company in February 2020 before being postponed, but was still granted eligibility for this year’s prize.

(Hall has had a busy couple of years – penning the book (and getting a Tony nomination) for Tina: The Tina Turner Musical.  And she was the Executive Producer and Showrunner for P-Valley on Starz, based on her play.  Oh, and she also appeared on my livestream – click here to watch that video).

Another interesting tid bit about this year’s awards was that one of the finalists was a “streamed” production – Patrick Foley and Michael Breslin’s Circle Jerk. 

So yes, my theatermakin’ friends and theatermakin’ fans, streaming is here to stay.

Congrats to Katori, and all the finalists . . . and, well, anyone that got their play off the ground in the past 12 months.  You all deserve awards, just for making it happen.

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Watch my interview with Katori Hall here.

June 11, 2021: What TheaterMakers Are Talking About This Week

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

 

1 – Bob Fosse’s Dancin’ Will Return to Broadway Next Season

A ‘contemporary celebration’ of Bob Fosse’s legacy is heading back to Broadway in the 2022-23 season. The show, which features a unique mix of songs (including Neil Diamond), will begin performances following a to-be-announced out of town engagement.

Read more: www.playbill.com 

 

2 – Musicians United for Social Equity Announces Two Mentorship Opportunities

Musicians United for Social Equity has announced two new mentorship programs for early to mid–career theatre musicians of color, aimed at achieving racial equity off stage on Broadway and beyond. Mentors include multiple Tony and Grammy winners that will give emerging professionals personalized programming opportunities. Applications for both programs are open now through the end of June. 

Read more: www.playbill.com 

 

3 – The Broadway League Announces Inaugural Juneteenth Event

The Broadway League is hosting the first ever Juneteenth celebration event, featuring several Broadway fan favorites. The free outdoor event aims to support and celebrate Black artists in the Broadway community and beyond. 

Read more: www.playbill.com 

 

4 – NYC is Planning a Central Park “Mega-Concert” with Producer Clive Davis

New York’s Mayor Bill de Blasio is teaming up with legendary music producer Clive Davis to open NYC back up in style. The ‘mega-concert’ will take place on Central Park’s iconic Great Lawn this August with details to follow. 

Read more: www.Variety.com

 

5 – New York’s Beloved Drama Book Shop Reopens at New Location 

The beloved NYC Drama Book Shop is finally reopening its doors at its new location. Shoppers new and returning can make reservations to visit now. 

Read more: www.nytimes.com 

 

Fun on a Friday: 

Jimmy Fallon and Lin-Manuel Miranda sing of excitement for Broadway’s reopening in this star-studded clip.

 

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Maybe it was because I was about to turn 30.

Maybe it was because I was about to turn 30.

Or maybe it was because Raul Esparza, Amy Spanger and Jerry Dixon gave some of the best performances I’ve seen.

Or maybe it was because I so wanted Jonathan Larson to still be with us (imagine what he would have made next – #Rent was his #InTheHeights) and he never got the chance to write his Hamilton.

But seeing the original production of tick, tick…BOOM! was one of the greatest theatrical experiences of my life.

Which is why I CAN’T WAIT FOR THIS MOVIE!

P.S. Trailer looks ridiculously amazing.  You agree?

 

A politician teaches you how NOT to fundraise for your project

One of a Broadway Producer’s primary responsibilities is to raise money.  It’s what makes us different from Movie Producers, Record Producers, and TV Producers. 

I used to complain about it. But as a mentor of mine said, “Ken, that’s the game. If you don’t like it, go produce movies instead of theater.”

That shut me up big time. Because it reminded me that we have the choice to do whatever we want in this life. I choose the theater, with all its idiosyncrasies. And instead of complaining about what bugs me, I take the serenity prayer to heart. I accept the things I cannot change, and work with a positive attitude to change the things I can.

One profession who has to raise more money than a Broadway Producer is a Politician.

So, I watch how they do it like a hawk watching a hawk.

I learned a couple of things about how they do it pretty quickly:

  • They follow up and then follow up some more.
  • They come at you through email, text, phone calls, direct mail and would send a carrier pigeon if they could.
  • They’d love a big check, sure, they’ll take lots of littles ones too.
  • They’re good at it. Because their jobs depend on it.

 

Which is why I was so shocked when a certain political candidate I follow was effin’ up so badly.

I’m not going to name names, because, well, it makes no difference who it is. And I eff up all the time, and I wouldn’t want someone else pointing it out either. (Let he without a marketing sin, cast the first e-stone.)

So what was this politician (or his team, more precisely) doing to decrease his/her chance of raising money?

This politician sent out emails that described their fundraising efforts as follows:

“pacing behind our goal.”

“not great.”

“we expect to get pummelled . . . “

 

There are more, but you get their drift. And I’m sure you get why this is the wrong approach when raising money.

No one ever wants to throw money at a sinking ship. One of the most powerful marketing strategies is social proof – demonstrating that whatever it is you’re selling is popular with tons of people. Because people want to do what other people are doing. You see a long line at a restaurant or a night club? You want to know what’s going on. You see a lot of people with the same sneakers or handbag? It makes you curious.

So telling everyone that people AREN’T giving you money when you’re asking them over and over? That can drive people the other way!

Now, the exception to this rule would be if this politician was going to his or her inner circle with open and authentic asks for real help. But communicating this way with potential backers who you don’t know that well, is a surefire way to NOT raise money.

(You can bet that I didn’t click “donate now” when I read these emails.)

Remember, when approaching investors, always be honest with where you are with your fundraising. But down-in-the-dumps, negative-marketing, is rarely a solution to raising money.  Or anything, for that matter.

 

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Want more tips on raising money?  Get my book, How To Raise Money For The Arts or for Anything.

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