10 Takeaways from Last Night’s Town Hall.

First, big thank you to the several hundred of you who signed up for last night’s Town Hall. It was awesome to e-meet so many of you and hear what is on your mind as you continue your quest to get your shows on a page and to a stage.

I got to about a dozen or so questions in the hour and 15 minutes we were all online.  And while I spoke, I jotted down some key points that I thought those of you who weren’t online might want to hear (by the way – have you ever tried to speak extemporaneously while writing down different words . . . talk about walking and chewing gum at the same time . . . if you listen to the recording and notice me slow my tempo down a bit, you’ll know why!).

Here are the top 10 Takeaways from last night’s Town Hall

  1. Your show will never be as important to someone else as it is to you.

Don’t rely on agents, lawyers, press reps, etc. to sell your show.  They are there to help YOU sell your show.

  1. Shows were not meant to be seen on a screen, they were meant to be seen on a stage.

There’s a reason film and TV have multiple cameras, close-ups, special effects, etc.  Because you need it all for audiences to be entertained while watching 2D.  It’s rare to get that when shooting a show.  So be especially careful about using video to try and find producers or raise money for your show.  Better to get people to see it live.

  1. Dark time is the enemy of all theater owners.

Use that to your advantage when booking venues.  If you can guarantee a longer run, I’d guarantee you can get a cheaper rent.  Or if you can do your show on the “dark” night of a theater with a running show, any amount of money is found money for the theater owner.

  1. Know what you are and don’t pretend to be something you’re not.

Be objective about your show and its place in the industry.  Not all shows are Broadway shows. Some shows are just for the regional market.  Some are just for high school.  And you can make a lot of money and change a lot of lives just producing for the high school market.  Understand what you are and where you fit, and you’ll be much more successful.

  1. Anything can happen if you have the cash.

As much as I hate this takeaway, it’s important to remember, because I know so many of you want your shows up and running . . . but are nervous about trying to raise money.  Someone asked, “How do I get my show Off Broadway?”  Well, if you have the money, I can get you there in three months.  Sounds simple, but it’s true.  Don’t get upset or depressed and say, “Man, only the rich folks out there can do that.  I don’t have that kind of cash!”  Instead, get inspired, “Man!  I can get my show Off Broadway if I raise the money. I’m going to go find people with that kind of cash!”

  1. Getting someone else to lobby for you is better than lobbying for yourself.

Building a career as a director, actor, playwright?  Get the theaters where you’ve worked to call other theaters and recommend you.  Get letters of recommendation.  Build a network of industry fans and leverage their relationships to get you more fans.

  1. Double your email list every year.

Wait you don’t have an email list? Get one. As I said in the webinar, I’ve seen Friendster, Myspace, Twitter, Snapchat, Text Message Marketing, and a lot more. Yet, the one thing that has remained constant and not changed through all of that? And the one thing that you NEED in order to register for any of those services, not to mention Amazon, Netflix, your online banking??? An email address. Email ani’t going away folks. So Collect ‘em and use “em to promote YOU and your shows,

  1. Get something on paper with your collaborators to keep your collaboration productive.

Wondering what the “deal” is when you start a show can lead to some awkward meetings and restrained creativity.  Get something, anything, down on paper that acknowledges what you’re doing and how the money WILL be split when it comes rolling on in.  You don’t have to get too specific, but putting something in writing will make everyone feel more secure, which will make them more productive.

  1. Word of mouth works on readings too.

One of the big problems with readings is that they are done in one day, and then poof, they’re gone.  What happens when assistants get back to their office and tell their boss about this great show they saw?  Well, the boss wants to see it, and then they can’t.  Buzz kill.  I always try to have ANOTHER reading scheduled (or even a 20-minute presentation) that we can invite the folks that couldn’t come to the reading but heard great things.  You always want an answer to, “What are you doing next?”

  1. Whenever there has been a plethora of one thing, it makes it harder for your thing to break through.

Producing a jukebox musical today is harder than it was before Mamma Mia!  Why?  It’s not as unique anymore.  This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work on your Vanilla Ice, but just go into it knowing that you have to find another way of being unique.  (Actually, it does mean don’t work on your Vanilla Ice musical.  Please.  Don’t.  I’m serious.)

If you missed the Town Hall last night and want to hear more brainstorms on ways to bust through whatever obstacle you’re facing, it’s not too late.  Click here and you can get the audio file for your listening pleasure, but listen quickly because we can’t keep it up for long. PROs you can find it in the archives.


– – – – –

Interested in learning more about topics like this? CLICK HERE to join The TheaterMakers Studio, an online community, certification training program, and resource for playwrights, producers, directors, actors, and theater makers of all kinds!

Related Posts


Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.