Lessons Learned from Self-producing a Reading

Heartbreak: New Plays by Mackenzie Worrall

If you want it done right, sometimes you have to do it yourself. That's why I'll usually produce my own readings for works in progress. I hit up the owner of Kafe Kerouac who very generously lends his coffee shop out to literary groups around the city. If you're in Columbus, I can't emphasize enough how much of a help Mike is to the local scene. (Plus, the Toni Morrison is to die for.)

I did a few things differently than the last time. So... maybe, just maybe, these lessons will stick for the next reading.

1. Marketing is Important

This is something I know. I tried some new things this time (Facebook! Telling people in person!), but my turn out wasn't as high as last time. In part, that was intentional. My audience last time was so huge that I don't think I got a lot of quality feedback. To fix it, I intentionally advertised less.

The result? I knew all but two people personally. More people stayed for the feedback, but it was almost entirely positive comments.

Yay, my ego.

However, I organize a reading to hear the negative things. So. Next time. Tell fewer people in person; advertise more around town in coffee shops. This awesome poster (partly seen in the featured image of this post) was handmade by the talented Maddie Gobbo and only Facebook got to see its glory. So far. It's too awesome to stop using. It'll see the light of day again.

2. Have Someone Else Run Your Talkback

The amazing and super, super smart Chris Leyva ran the talkback after the show. This is something I love to do, but I also know that I'm too close to my own work to do it right. This was the first time someone else took the reigns for me. Even if I could only give him credit for talking while I frantically wrote things down, that would be enough to be life changing.

However, Chris took the conversation in valuable and interesting directions. He pursued lines of thought I would've glanced over.

That night was also his first night seeing my plays. I gave him no preparation. (Thanks, Chris!)

Lesson learned? Always have someone else run your talkback. And if possible, make that person Chris Leyva.

3. Skype is an Acceptable Rehearsal tool

I've never used Skype outside of my marketing work. This time, I used it to rehearse two separate actors who couldn't attend my main rehearsal. The play was mostly monologues. With Skype, we did a face-to-face reading and I gave each actor separate notes. The reading was their first time doing it together.

You know what? It worked.

Now that I know Skype is fine, I may start looking for actors outside of Columbus. I can rehearse them ahead of time and they can come in for the reading. Wow. Modern technology, am I right?

Thanks

Finally, I can't thank the following people enough for their involvement. Adam Greenbaum Latek, Emily Bartelt, Alexander Sanchez, Scott Riser, K.C. Novak, Jordan Shear, and Amy Hall were my talented group of actors. Madeline Gobbo for the poster, Ethan Roberts of Cinema Parmesean for the recording, Mike and Kafe Kerouac for the space, and Chris Leyva for making it all worthwhile.

More info to come on what happens to these plays! The submissions process has begun. I'm also planning on producing them right here in Columbus. Don't worry. I won't let you miss the announcement when that happens.