I recently had the pleasure of having a good chat with the Liv Harris the Creative producer at The Riverfront Theatre in Newport. I wanted to pick her brain about the audiences that visit her theatre and how they go about attracting more people.
They key points from this conversation were the following
1 - The 'main' theatre must be commercially viable (big name shows, popular tributes etc) so that they can be more experimental and take bigger risks in the studio theatre.
This is important because, knowing that they take risks means they are more likely to put on an original and unheard of show (me).
2 - They are trying to produce and co-produce more in house productions.
This was potentially very positive for me - if I could put myself in the position for them to want to produce this show then that would be fantastic! I just need to figure out how to get from where I am (just ideas and the odd video) to where I want to be (being produced by them).
3 - 'I will always have coffee with someone and listen to their pitch'
Liv said that she will always have a meeting with a performer no matter who they are, just to listen to their idea(s) and see how she can help. She said that the riverfront might not be able to help, but she will more often than not find a more suitable venue or company that would be able to.
I have already booked myself in for a coffee meeting with her in regards to my show.
There was a lot more that we discussed but these are the main points.
This is a rough timeline that I have made now... 27th March. It will most likely not stick to this, as things change and what have you. But its something that I can keep looking back on to help organise everything that will be happening over the next few months.
I've updated the timeline every now and the, to add various bits and pieces that come in and go.
The idea for my fieldwork project stems from my love of hearing the stories behind the songs written. I would gladly pay just as much to see my favourite artists talk about the meaning behind their songs as I would to see them perform them.
First and foremost I am aiming to create a live show in which I tell stories behind the songs - the main crutch I have going into this is that no one knows my songs and therefore I doubt people will care much for the story behind them. So I need to develop a show in which the stories and songs merge and create essential a new piece of theatre that blends the lines between live music and live theatre.
As I am still not in a position to go out and put on a show (I need to polish the stories and songs plus no theatres would take me on straight away without any examples of work, which I do not have at the moment), I am going to take my time with the development of the show, and also complete some side projects along the way, all with the aim to build my following online - end goal being these people will come to see my show when it happens.
I have been emailing theatres across the land for information on any 'scratch' nights they may have. A scratch night is pretty much an open mic night but for theatre. It's a way of showing your latest work ad getting instant feedback.
Most of them these days seem to have themes for their nights, meaning my stories don't tend to fit, but I'll keep looking. I'm not limiting myself to Cardiff either, as I have friends that will put me up for a night in a few cities in the UK so I'm trying to find anywhere that will take me.
There are several things that I can gain from a scratch night. The main one being instant feedback from the people reading it there and then and also the audience that will watch it. It's a learning experience and part of the development process for writers. I will also get to see other pieces of work and just absorb as much as possible from this environment.
I've decided that for fieldwork I want to put on an early version of my show. This is because it means I get to perform the show and get some feedback. Plus get a vibe for how it will all go down.
Here are some of the locations in which I have been looking into.
1 - Riverfront theatre, Newport.
Obvious choice for me as I have been working there for years and have a good relationship with everyone there. Its got a brilliant little studio space that has had similar scale shows to mine. They've also got good links with other theatres around the UK.
2 - Phyllis Maude, Newport
Gorgeous old toilet block that ha been converted into a theatre style performance space. They seem very keen for new acts to use the space so I on't imagine it would be hard to arrange something.
3 - Chapter, Cardiff
Creative building just down the road from my house. It has small studio spaces and is in known for putting on good shows. Despite having been there many times, I still haven't familiarised myself with the staff there.
4 - Tobacco Factory, Bristol
I stumbled across this place when meeting someone for a coffee, it has a very 'chapter' style vibe. I don't know much other than what the website says, but it seems cool.
5 - Sherman Theatre, Cardiff
This theatre has a similar studio space to that at the Riverfront, the only pro for this theatre over the riverfront is that it is in Cardiff which is just easier for me to get to.
6 - The Other Room, Cardiff
A small theatre next to a pub. The Other Room is a great little space that would be a really nice environment for my show. It has a good live music scene as well so linking the two could be nice.