Creating your own work as an actor
How I created my own work.
Becoming any sort of entertainer is extremely difficult, whether you strive to be an actor, a comedian, a writer or a dancer you can be sure life will never be dull and always be challenging.
For the purpose of this article I am going to skip through the Drama or Dance training process and imagine that you have completed your Drama School or Dance School Courses and now avidly looking for work. Not all Performing Arts Students are lucky enough to get an agent after graduation and even those who do secure one will verify that it does not guarantee work. So let's say you have left Drama School, college or university and have been to a few auditions but had no luck as yet, what can you do? Well I think and it is of course only my opinion but trying to create your own work will most definitely keep you motivated and active in the industry.
I speak from experience and am pleased to say I have inspired past Drama and Dance students to do the same.
When I first decided to create my own work I was in my early twenties and working full time as a dancer. Up to that point I had been constantly in work and couldn't imagine sitting around waiting for something to show up. So, with the idea of creating a commercial dance company, I set off with my dance buddy to the nearest bank. We had worked out a business plan, albeit very a basic one, and as far as we could see this was a very viable business and could see no reason why a bank would turn down a loan for £5,000.00. So when Natwest, Barclays and Lloyds all said no way we were quite frankly, a little surprised. Though it would appear no one else was!
This is where unwavering faith was needed and I am pleased to say at no stage did we ever believe we wouldn't get the money or the work to pay it back, so we were unperturbed by our journey so far and we marched on. Our final port of call was the Royal Bank of Scotland and after a passionate pitch they agreed to lend us the £5,000.00. Leaving the bank that day knowing we were about to start our own dance company was an amazing feeling. During the next month we were very busy auditioning dancers, making costumes, organising publicity material and choreographing numbers. Once we were certain we had a show we started applying to showcases and were delighted to be quickly offered work. The Dance Company was, I am pleased to say, a success and all the money was paid back within a year as promised and we continued to work for several years making a very decent income and exploring our own creativity. That was my first entrepreneurial experience.
The next time I exercised my entrepreneurial spirit was a few years later when I met my husband and realised working away from each other wasn't something either of us relished. So, having hung up my dancing shoes a few years earlier to concentrate on my acting career, we decided to set up Blag Theatre Company.
This time we didn't need to go to the bank. We started writing ' Return to the Forgotten Decade ...The Fifties' in 1995, the year our daughter was born, and by the time she was a few weeks old we had a small tour planned and a few private functions. Over the years the company has performed in all sorts of venues from church halls, to working men's clubs and of course some rather lovely theatres too. We have mostly written our own shows and have focused mainly on parody and spoof though we have also produced some work from established playwrights. In 2008 we were excited to take our show 'Entertainment my Arts!' Into the Arts theatre in London where we played a cabaret spot every Tuesday for eight months. This was a show very similar to ‘Forbidden Broadway’ but a more user friendly version and designed more for the general public, knowledge of all the shows was not essential for our audiences. The show was always met with a great response and included a whistle stop tour of the West End shows as well as stab at television and celebrities.
The company continues to produce original theatre and I am pleased to say we have established a loyal following which allows us the luxury of creating our own work.
In this more difficult financial market creating your own work may seem risky, however, I believe it is always worth the risk. ‘Pop Up Theatre’ is now very popular and a performance space can be created anywhere, I think the hardest part of producing is the marketing, getting those bums on seats. So where to begin?
Here is a quick step by step guide to get you started on a profit share company.
Open a bank account in the name of your business ie: name/surname trading as: Name of theatre company.
Create a budget, work out how many seats you will need to sell to break even.
Source funds, be creative. Car boots, advertisers for your programme, sponsors, cake sale, garage sale.
If possible, buy a domain name for your business. Everyone Googles! Set up an inexpensive web page. Check out ‘http://www.peopleperhour.com/’ for people who can do this quickly and affordably
Decide on the production. Writing your own will be more cost effective.
Decide on where and when you will perform.
Audition for cast. ‘http://www.castingcallpro.com/uk/’ is a great source and you can post your job for free.
Organise all your publicity material. Make a list of all the press publications and websites you can approach for publicity. Write a time schedule for releases and don't be scared to pick up the phone!
Make a rehearsal schedule. Don't keep actors hanging around, if it is profit share respect their time and commitment to your project.
Start rehearsals, make your rehearsals a good experience for all, set out guidelines on how you wish to work so that everyone knows from the start.
As the performance date approaches ensure your publicity material is everywhere. If no one knows you’re performing how can they come?
After the performances evaluate and decide on your next move.
If you have a personal experience of creating your own work be it a good one or a bad we would love to hear from you at www.dramaclasses.biz Just email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
In September 2015 I ventured into a webseries this was another first. Creating your own work on Film or in Theatre is exciting and a brilliant learning curve. I also got my first taste in Directing!!!
Lynn Beaumont owner of drama classes.biz: