creative producer blog

The Creative Theatre Producers Club

The space for theatre makers.

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.