Now that Tulpa, or Anne&Me is officially through with its run at Planet Connections Theatre Festivity, I can reflect on some of the things we did that went well and those that could have gone a lot better.
I'm hugely indebted to Little Jimmy's Guide to Self-Producing. As a result of the things I learned there, I was able to do 2 things I consider very important for every production: 1) pay everyone a little something and 2) stay under budget. Of course, as a playwright, the audience response and the artistic collaboration were the most satisfying aspects of producing Tulpa, or Anne&Me for the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity. But as a producer, staying under budget and paying people were my most crucial tasks.
Looking back on it, I'd say that my function as a producer is to create a framework under which the creative team can do its best work despite limitations in time, budget, and personnel. This suits me to a T because my mind works in a strongly systemic way, and producing is basically creating and managing a system. I'm a classic Meyers-Briggs INTJ, so I flourish in a role like this.
That being said, although I enjoyed producing Tulpa, or Anne&Me for the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity, there are some things I'd do differently if I knew ahead of time that I'd be doing it. The main thing, though . . .
Get the people first.
Although the nature of our project changed from a staged reading to a production, in retrospect we should have started looking for our cast and crew as soon as we got the news that we were accepted into the festival. On the one hand, we didn't want to put too many resources into a staged reading, but we should have treated a production as a likelihood instead of as a distant possibility. This would have made things like booking rehearsal space a lot easier as well as given us more time to work with design elements.
Everything turned out great for the festival; we were very lucky in that regard. The next time around (especially knowing what we're going to be doing), we have to be more diligent about this part of the process.
Besides mounting the production itself, getting the cast and crew involved at the very beginning of a production makes it much easier to do things like fundraising and audience building. It's easier for 10 people to raise $2,500 than it is for 2 people to raise $2,000. It's easier to ask 10 people to each convince 5 people to see the show than it is to get 1 person to get 50 people to come see a show.
And while we're at it . . .
Take the time to learn about and accommodate how people work.
Unless you are working with people who are just like you, there are going to be differences in the way everyone works. Part of working well with others is learning how to speak their language so that they can get what you're saying with a minimum of static.
For instance, in an early rehearsal, one of the actors mentioned that she's a highly auditory learner. That was such a revelation. It opened up a whole new way of relating to her and understanding how she sees the world. Yet how long would it have gone ignored had she not brought it up? How often do we overlook the ways we can better communicate with people? How often do we think to say, "This is what I need to do my best work?"