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The Creative Theatre Producers Club

The space for theatre makers.

Two great theatre training opportunities for February!

creativeproducersclub:

Happy New Year…

A bit late, I know, but I hope you had a great holiday season and you were able to create some ‘me’ time.

I know the New Year is a time for thinking of plans for the next year or two ahead, but I thought I’d let you know first about two opportunities for February as they are both likely to sell out and I wouldn’t want you to miss them.

Our first ‘Masterclass’ - and 'An Introduction to Creative Producing’.
The Masterclass is with Guy Masterson.  How to Conquer Edinburgh.  
Tuesday,  6th February, 2018


If you’ve been around for any time, you’ll know of Guy.  King of the Edinburgh Fringe and the master of one-man shows (not a title he relishes, by the way!)  I’ve been working quite closely with him for the last few months and I really think anyone aspiring to make a career as an independent in the arts should take this opportunity to meet him and pick up a few tips about how he has managed to tour the world over 25 Edinburgh Festivals.  He is remarkable in so many ways I think you will find useful.  Not just as a talented performer and an Olivier Award-winner, but his whole attitude is quite refreshing and unique.  Working with Guy has certainly made me reassess a few things and I think it may be the best 15 quid you ever spend!  And talking of that, I wanted the event to be informal and accessible, so I’ve booked a room at a fairly quiet pub, The Wheatsheaf on Rathbone Place (off Oxford Street) in Fitzrovia, W1.  The formal bit will be upstairs, and then we can have our Christmas Party and informal get together downstairs afterwards!

It’s £25 on the door - so I’d encourage you to book in advance (£15) and save a tenner! There’s a virtual ticket too, for £10, but it won’t be the same!
I’m also trying a new box office supplier.  Let me know what you think of them!


Next up, you may have already done the workshop, but here’s the blurb from Maverick anyway…

An Introduction to Creative Producing.
Soho.
Saturday, 17th February, 2018.
“An M.A. in a day…!”

The acclaimed workshop returns to London. You can also now attend virtually, wherever in the world you live!  Please email nick@mavericktheatre.co.uk for further details or see our Maverick website, www.CreativeProducers.Club . And please spread the word and circulate this e-mail to your colleagues and friends.

This unique workshop takes an overview of British Theatre and Event Production.

It looks at everything needed to put on a show or event or start a production or theatre company, from the local pub, to a national tour, to the West End of London. It will also touch on film and TV opportunities and look at further training and qualifications.

Where do you start?  What is the difference between a Creative Producer and a 'normal’ Producer?  Where do Artistic Directors fit in?  What about finance, the law, choice of plays or musicals? Then there’s employing actors, working with creatives, commissioning new works, copyright, contracts, fundraising, other events, investing in theatre, parties and pitfalls!

It’s for anyone who has ever felt a desire to create theatre or events and promote them.  Writers, investors, marketers, actors or directors or just those who are curious.  The introduction looks at the pros and cons of commercial production, setting up a theatre company and local/national touring.  It covers legal issues, contracts, working with creatives, and securing rights. It will also be useful to anyone who has considered investing in theatre, is interested in event production or is just curious about what a Creative Producer does!

No previous knowledge is assumed.  Previous participants at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and RADA have included students, amateur actors, producers, directors, theatre administrators, arts council officers and writers. The feedback has been unanimously positive, so get in quick!

“An excellent course - Nick combined solid helpings of advice and experience with sprinklings of anecdotal experience, which was a great combination.”   Part Suspended Blog

The course is run by Nick Hennegan. Nick has produced over 80 plays and created numerous events for blue-chip clients and leading ad agencies.  He has a Masters in Creative Producing for Theatre and Live Performance from Birkbeck College, University of London and won a Stage One Bursary from SOLT.  He will also offer signposts to further learning and training.

The cost for the day and all documentation is still only £79.00.  There’s a virtual ticket available too.  Places are limited. Please BOOK HERE.


A COUPLE OF OPPORTUNITIES to get 2018 underway.  Even if you’ve already done the workshop I hope to see you on 6th February.

Best wishes.

Nick

29/01/2018

Two great theatre training opportunities for February!

Happy New Year…

A bit late, I know, but I hope you had a great holiday season and you were able to create some ‘me’ time.

I know the New Year is a time for thinking of plans for the next year or two ahead, but I thought I’d let you know first about two opportunities for February as they are both likely to sell out and I wouldn’t want you to miss them.

Our first 'Masterclass’ - and 'An Introduction to Creative Producing’.
The Masterclass is with Guy Masterson.  How to Conquer Edinburgh.  
Tuesday,  6th February, 2018


If you’ve been around for any time, you’ll know of Guy.  King of the Edinburgh Fringe and the master of one-man shows (not a title he relishes, by the way!)  I’ve been working quite closely with him for the last few months and I really think anyone aspiring to make a career as an independent in the arts should take this opportunity to meet him and pick up a few tips about how he has managed to tour the world over 25 Edinburgh Festivals.  He is remarkable in so many ways I think you will find useful.  Not just as a talented performer and an Olivier Award-winner, but his whole attitude is quite refreshing and unique.  Working with Guy has certainly made me reassess a few things and I think it may be the best 15 quid you ever spend!  And talking of that, I wanted the event to be informal and accessible, so I’ve booked a room at a fairly quiet pub, The Wheatsheaf on Rathbone Place (off Oxford Street) in Fitzrovia, W1.  The formal bit will be upstairs, and then we can have our Christmas Party and informal get together downstairs afterwards!

It’s £25 on the door - so I’d encourage you to book in advance (£15) and save a tenner! There’s a virtual ticket too, for £10, but it won’t be the same!
I’m also trying a new box office supplier.  Let me know what you think of them!


Next up, you may have already done the workshop, but here’s the blurb from Maverick anyway…

An Introduction to Creative Producing.
Soho.
Saturday, 17th February, 2018.
“An M.A. in a day…!”

The acclaimed workshop returns to London. You can also now attend virtually, wherever in the world you live!  Please email nick@mavericktheatre.co.uk for further details or see our Maverick website, www.CreativeProducers.Club . And please spread the word and circulate this e-mail to your colleagues and friends.

This unique workshop takes an overview of British Theatre and Event Production.

It looks at everything needed to put on a show or event or start a production or theatre company, from the local pub, to a national tour, to the West End of London. It will also touch on film and TV opportunities and look at further training and qualifications.

Where do you start?  What is the difference between a Creative Producer and a 'normal’ Producer?  Where do Artistic Directors fit in?  What about finance, the law, choice of plays or musicals? Then there’s employing actors, working with creatives, commissioning new works, copyright, contracts, fundraising, other events, investing in theatre, parties and pitfalls!

It’s for anyone who has ever felt a desire to create theatre or events and promote them.  Writers, investors, marketers, actors or directors or just those who are curious.  The introduction looks at the pros and cons of commercial production, setting up a theatre company and local/national touring.  It covers legal issues, contracts, working with creatives, and securing rights. It will also be useful to anyone who has considered investing in theatre, is interested in event production or is just curious about what a Creative Producer does!

No previous knowledge is assumed.  Previous participants at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and RADA have included students, amateur actors, producers, directors, theatre administrators, arts council officers and writers. The feedback has been unanimously positive, so get in quick!

“An excellent course - Nick combined solid helpings of advice and experience with sprinklings of anecdotal experience, which was a great combination.”   Part Suspended Blog

The course is run by Nick Hennegan. Nick has produced over 80 plays and created numerous events for blue-chip clients and leading ad agencies.  He has a Masters in Creative Producing for Theatre and Live Performance from Birkbeck College, University of London and won a Stage One Bursary from SOLT.  He will also offer signposts to further learning and training.

The cost for the day and all documentation is still only £79.00.  There’s a virtual ticket available too.  Places are limited. Please BOOK HERE.


A COUPLE OF OPPORTUNITIES to get 2018 underway.  Even if you’ve already done the workshop I hope to see you on 6th February.

Best wishes.

Nick

11/01/2018

Happy Christmas, Creative Producer!

Our Special Offer Newsletter…

Well, here we are.  The time of special festive offers and of course, pantomime.  (Oh yes it is…!)

We have been talking about having a Christmas get-together. There are now an amazing 130 of us!  But due mainly to the scrum of things I’ve been working on up to the festive season, I thought we might have a Christmas get together - next year!  In January.  Probably in London as that is where most of us are based.  Unless you fancy somewhere else, in which case, please let me know.

As I’ve mentioned before, being a producer, especially an independent producer, is a hard slog and you should congratulate yourself on surviving another year. We might not all have castles like Cameron, but meeting the rent is no less an achievement - especially in London. And don’t forget, Sir Cam had 14 flops before he found his first hit.

And talking of surviving - I’ve gone back to my Writer/Director roots for the first time in many years this Christmas. I’ve crafted a national theatre tour with the Olivier Award winning actor, Guy Masterson. He’s a prodigious talent is Guy and also understands what a slog our business can be. Which is why he’s prepared to break his theatre tour to perform in - a Pub!  It’s my doing and a nod to my early roots with Maverick Theatre in Birmingham.

So if you’d like to come to The Wheatsheaf,W1 this Sat or Sunday 16 & 17 Dec, it’d be great to see you and there will be mince pies afterwards.  And the odd drink!  There’s only two shows available now (Phew!) and I can’t offer you free tickets with such a small capacity - I’ve done the figures, and as you know, Spreadsheets Are Our Friends - but if you use the code ‘Charles’ when booking, you will get 50% off!  So an adult ticket will be about £9 and kids a fiver. Bargain! Beat that Old Vic!

Tickets and info from - 

www.TheChristmasCarol.co.uk (And if you run your own venue or space, you might like to book it for next year!)

So hopefully I’ll see you this weekend - come and see how to make excellent theatre in a non-theatre space. I have a few desires to roll out a national pub project perhaps…

And if you can’t make the weekend or our January meet, at least try and have some ‘me time’ over the holiday period. ‘Normal’ people have no idea how exhausting it is constantly thinking, planning - and worrying - about making theatre.

Bless us all, every one.

Onwards!

Nick x

www.CreativeProducers.Club 

11/12/2017

See HenryVPlay.com

16/10/2017

Learn to recognise theatrical success.

White, working-class kids take note.  Dream Big - or else!

This will be one of the stranger blogs you might read about success.  But let’s face it -  the arts is a strange business.
And, with the Creative Producers Club (www.CreativeProducers.Club) and our new Theatre Training initiative coming next year, I’ve been thinking about how important it is that you are as prepared as you possibly can be for the challenge.  And, now, as old and bruised by this beautiful business as I am, I want to make sure you don’t make the cock-ups I made.
Because I now know I had massive success with my first ever play - Henry V - Lion of England.  But at the time I had no idea. And I let everything slip through my fingers!    
It might be worth qualifying this.  Because I also now know the reason I didn’t recognise success was due to my background.  As a working-class kid born and bought up on a council estate, theatre was not on our radar.  I’m sure things would have been different if it was, perhaps.  But that’s for another blog post!
Here’s what happened to me anyway, because whatever scale of theatre you are writing, directing or producing,  I think you need to be aware of what success might look like.  Especially if you’re a council estate kid like me.
So.  It is to the Edinburgh Festival of 1992 I want to take you. Or actually, before that.

1. ‘Let’s face it’, I thought back in the late years of last century, ‘Shakespeare is incomprehensible shite’. I’d been to see “The Merry Wives” at the RSC because ‘Bergerac’ was in it.  No idea what was going on.  But I knew the world rated Shakespeare, so when I heard on BBC2 one Saturday afternoon that Henry V was on, I decided to give it one last shot.  And it worked. It was Ken Branagh’s version.  He gave much of the text a modern emotion.  Frankly, I was relieved.  But having been switched onto Shakespeare and having seen the film I thought there was another, more accessible way of telling the story.  I decided to write it.  For one person.

I wrote my version of ‘Henry V’ with no great ambition and after the pub when the TV finished (it did in those days) over a period of a few months. I figured I could probably perform it myself if my radio career crashed, even though I wasn’t ‘officially’ an actor.  I was a radio presenter and producer on a freelance contract. Even in the days when pop radio was making documentaries and I won a Sony Award - like a radio Oscar -  for the station, it was a bit like being a footballer, but with much less money. You know the gig is going to finish eventually.

2.  I realised I probably needed an actor to get the show on its feet. I was right. First success.  I got a mate, Rob Stanson, from amdram.  He’d been to the Actors Centre in London for a year. In fact he was the only young male actor I knew. Then another pal from amdram, Trish, reminded me her artist partner, Robb, also wrote music. I ditched the band ‘Imagination’ (opening track, ‘Just an Illusion’!) and Robb wrote a superb score for Henry.  More success.

3.  I hired the small puppet theatre at the Midlands Arts Centre in Birmingham for £50 for the first show.  Plus technician.

4.  It turns out actor Rob was casually matey with Jasper Carrot’s management, Starward. They came and saw the show at the mac and approached us in the bar afterwards. They offered to take us to the Edinburgh festival.  Success!  Why?  I think they fancied Rob Stanson as a talent - but mainly they were impressed we’d had a standing ovation at the end of our show in Birmingham at the mac!  I’d thought people were running for the bar!  
We got to the festival.  I’d never been to the Edinburgh Festival before either, so didn’t know what to expect. I was a bit peeved that Starward were not going to pay us a fee. Although it was not going to cost us anything!  Like I say, I’d not been to the festival before..!

5.  We had a five bedroom flat for the three of us, overlooking the Meadows.  I started to think we might have done okay when I met other theatre companies who’d had to pay accommodation, venue fees, marketing, flyers and poster and a host of other things.  One theatre company was sleeping on the dirt floor of a barn 12 miles outside Edinburgh. They were grovelingly grateful when we allowed them to sleep on our (carpeted) floor!

6. We were getting audiences of around 40.  I was disappointed but now know that was even more success for an unknown new play.  The average audience in Edinburgh was four!  

7. In 1992 no reviews carried ‘stars’!  Hard to imagine now, but true.  But our reviews were all straight raves.  They would have been mainly 5 star reviews.  “Highly recommended.”  “A theatrical tour de force’”  And reviews from good publications.  The Scotsman, The List, The Stage, etc.  We used to joke that we’d got another “theatrical Tour-de-force”.  I assumed that was normal.  I know now it was another great success.

8. I had no real idea what we were to do after Edinburgh, because I’d never thought about it.  This was a show I’d written for me to perform, remember?  Although I was so blown away by the energy and democracy of the fringe, I was forming plans to try and do something similar in Birmingham.  Maybe.  So when we had approaches by many - dozens - of bookers and producers I didn’t really know what to do with them.  I often referred them to Rob, the actor, for a chat!  Even so, I still had a bunch of business cards from interested venues and organisation from around the world.  More success!

I stuffed the business cards and contact details in an envelope.  About week Three I then lost the envelope one night after a boozy session with the venue staff!  
The one person I do remember whose card I had was the then head of arts for the new South African Government.  I know because I saw him five years later in Stratford-upon-Avon - when he remembered me!   He told me he was keen we should have toured South Africa.  He couldn’t afford the RSC because much of his budget had been transferred into building new housing for the people of the townships, so we were the answer to his creative prayers.  Had the writer/director not got a bit pissed and lost his details…!

This is not an exercise in navel gazing, or me telling you how great I am (obs I  am!!)  so much as a cautionary note.  

It’s also inspired by a friend who has recently won a theatre award - and doesn’t really appreciate he has!  This award was so out of reach, he’d not thought through what would happen IF the impossible happened and he actually did win!

So in 1992 I’d written a play.  It was for me to perform if things went wrong at work.  Perform it myself and earn the odd £50.  Within just FOUR MONTHS of finishing the final draft of my first ever play, we’d gone from my front room in Birmingham, to the mac, to the Edinburgh Festival and we could have taken off around the world if I’d realise what I had to do.  
I had and have no regrets, because I might have frightened myself to death if I’d realised what could happen.  And as I’ve mentioned, I’d no theatrical ‘DNA’.  
But in such a tough business I respectfully suggest you should insist to yourself  that you must dream big.  Then when it happens, as surprising as it will be, you’ll know how to maximise your success and not just be puzzled and amazed by it.

16/10/2017

How to survive Edinburgh - 1.


This is the first newsletter for a while - basically, I’ve been a bit busy, which in this business is no bad thing.

But it’s August and as everyone in the real world rushes off on holiday, we enter the stress-pool that is the Edinburgh Festival!

Many of you will be Edinburgh veterans - but if you’re not, and even if you are, you should know - Edinburgh is tough! And when I say Edinburgh, I’m really talking about the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which is where most of us chase our field of dreams.  My first Festival was 1992.  

As you’ll know if you’ve been on our Creative Producers Workshop - we have to learn that Spreadsheet Are Our Friends. So you will have done your budget to death and be down a road that started with registration and brochure copy in the dark depths of the winter. And it might be too late for you now, with the festival almost done, but I just want to make the point that as producer, you need to take care of yourself.  Edinburgh during festival is almost a 24 hour city. It’s exciting. There are new creatives to meet; productions to see and most of all your own show to succeed with.

But you need to be aware it’s the little things that can be very tough for a producer. Most performing companies tend to stay together in the same accommodation and it can be very hard sharing the toothpaste and food budget for a whole month with an actor you auditioned for an hour in June. If I had a pound for every company I know has split over the Festival, I could afford to fund a couple of shows every year!

And then there’s morale. If you are the producer, you know that the buck stops with you. Everyone else in the company can moan and groan and bitch and complain, but you are the final adjudicator, peace-maker, smoother and soother.

And that’s just dealing with the company. What about yourself?  Did anyone tell you the average Edinburgh audience is 4?  No, thought not.  And great reviews are a possibility IF you can get the reviewers in to see your show in the first place.  Which you probably won’t.  Be ready for it.  Even though most decent venues will do all they can to help, there’s a LOT of competition for reviewers.  A friend of mine who is an Edinburgh veteran with an international reputation finally got his first review in week three of four!  So manage expectations within the company. Miserable actors are a very miserable thing indeed.

Also, try and have at least a day a week off - or at least a couple of days off in the run. I know that might sound very counter-intuitive and radical on a fixed run, with potential lack of income, but you and everyone will be working at a pitch you would never do normally. Not just performing, but leafleting, (God, the flyering! Save me!) drinking, late nights or early mornings and bad diet; all will combine to wear you down.  So try and make some ‘you time’.  You probably won’t lose much financially with a few days off and it might just energise both yourself and the company.

If you are in Edinburgh, I hope it is all you expected. It is a glorious agony. If you are considering going next year, or if you know anyone who is, please forward this and tell them to sign up to our newsletter.

And as always if you have any comments or criticisms, I’d love to hear from you.

Onwards!,

Nick

NEXT TIME - Reviews, good and bad - and how to deal with them.
COMING SOON - How not to blow your success in Edinburgh!

Creative Producers Club.


22/08/2017

It’s been a while.  But we’re more important than ever now.

It’s been a couple of months since I last posted here.  But I’m trying to sort a script and music for our national tour of A Christmas Carol later in the year.  I finally managed to get a group of international journalists together to come on the London Literary Pub Crawl, so we’re having our official opening 5 years after we started!  I’m working on a TV script; I’m trying to negotiate with a National Trust garden to present a play in November and I no longer have my assistant, who has decided to travel the world.  Although postcards have been promised.  So spending time on this site is not really a priority.

I’m delighted that Roller Diner,  a musical I was loosely involved in creating with writer and friend Stephen Jackson at the Billesley Pub in Birmingham years ago, has gone on to win the prestigious Verity Bargate Award and is now playing at the Soho Theatre.  And like everyone, I’ve been moved by recent events in London and Manchester.  I met a friend in the Soho bar who came to see Roller Diner

“Thank god for this.” he said.  “I felt like weeping most of the day, watching the constant TV news pictures of the burning flats.  But life goes on.  This has set me up for the week.”  

And it made me think a bit about how important we are as creators of stories.  In a mad, bad world, producers can create a balance and make a difference.

18/06/2017

Looking for free set or props?

Just a quick note - a producer friend of mine in our Carnaby Street Stage One office was saying he’s just found props and set dressings for his new production - for no cost!  The Curve Theatre in Leicester have a huge store and although you’ll have to pay a security deposit, hires are free!  Good on you, Leicester!

08/04/2017

To Tour, or not To Tour. That is the question...

The scale of a tour is judged by the number of seats of the venues your production is going to tour to. And we all normally start small. Partly through lack of confidence or cash and partly because we just need to work things out. The numbers are not set. The Arts Council used to have a guideline, but generally small scale is considered to be anything under around 200 seats. 200 - 500 seats is around what is called a middle-scale tour and anything over around 500 seats would be considered large scale, although some maintain that large scale starts at 600.

As a new theatre company, writer or actor touring for the first time the problem is not so much what size tour do I want as what size tour can I get? I produced a show for three weeks in the back room of the Billesley pub in Birmingham - capacity 80. After its three weeks in Brum, its fourth week was at the Tameside Hippodrome - capacity 1200. Same show. Same actors - apart from the talented John Marques who was already in demand.  We had to add some panels to the set to make it fill the cavernous Hippodrome but we were only able to get in to the Hipp because we had built a reputation on the small scale. And through the small-scale I learnt one crucial, hard, torturous lesson.  Anathema to an artist but you’ve got to understand it. It’s all down to… and I shudder even now… its all down to … the deal! There, I’ve said it. It’s The Deal that will make or break a show or tour.

Julius Green, someone I consider a friend, was the hard nosed, but wonderfully kind, producer of Bill Kenwright Ltd and he knows all about this. But more about Julius later.

First out you have to ask, why do I want to tour? And where? But mainly, why? Touring is notoriously expensive. Would you be better off finding a room locally and putting on the show yourself. That’s how I started.

Any questions or comments?  Please feel free to ask.

05/02/2017
<p>Rehearsed readings. Good or bad?</p>

Rehearsed readings. Good or bad?

29/01/2017