9 Tips for Successfully Organizing a Play

Jun 27, 2019 by

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Acting is a beloved art for both professionals and amateurs. If you consider yourself a thespian, don’t wait for the next community theater production – put on your own play!

This is a tall order that can have amazing results if you’re willing to put in the time and effort to make it so. Paying attention to the smallest of details will help you succeed. Use these 9 steps to produce your own play:

1. Choose the Venue

Before you get into the nitty gritty of hosting a play, find a place to perform it. Depending on your location, you might have dozens of options or just a few. Consider the neighborhood, costs, square footage, number of seats, condition, and amenities of each possibility.

An auditorium is the best option, as it’s already outfitted for plays. But if there’s not one available, think outside the box. You might use a church or an old barn. An unused warehouse could also serve as a blank slate for building a makeshift auditorium.

2. Gather Funding

You’ll need adequate funds to build your set, purchase permissions, rent costumes, install equipment, and more. It’s surprising how much a good production can cost!

Some plays will cost more than others. In some cases, you can raise the money with cast member contributions. Otherwise, you’ll want to solicit the help of investors or hold a fundraiser to make your play a reality.

Remember that ticket sales will help recoup the costs, so keeping your overhead low and ticket sales high is also important.

3. Purchase Permissions

While you can occasionally find a royalty-free play online, the majority have a price. Well-known plays will be more expensive than lesser-known works, so if funds are tight, consider exploring a few productions you don’t recognize.

Putting on a play of your own writing is also an option.

4. Develop Your Production Team

One person can’t put on a play alone. You’ll need a team of producers and stage workers. Here’s a short list of people you’ll probably want to include:

  • Directors: Many productions have multiple directors, including a casting director, choreographer, music conductor, and a main director. You can do it with just one director, however.
  • Stage/Prop Manager: Someone should oversee organizing props and getting them on stage at the right time and place.
  • Instrumentalists: Not all plays have music, but live music is wonderful for those that do. A digital recording can substitute this group if need be.
  • Marketing Team: Having someone spread the word about your play through advertisements, social media, and other marketing initiatives removes that burden from you.
  • Costume Designer: Let someone else take care of the costumes while you focus on producing and directing the play.

5. Cast the Parts

Hold auditions a few weeks before you plan to start rehearsing. This gives you plenty of time to hold call backs and make your final decision.

It’s best to host the audition either on stage or in a large room with good acoustics. That way, you can hear the performers project and see them where they’ll perform.

Traditionally, the performers memorize monologues of their choosing for the first audition, but they should read excerpts of the play during the call backs. This will help you envision the candidates in their respective parts, giving you a good idea of who to cast.

6. Design the Playbill

At some point during the production of the play, you’ll need to design the playbill, and the earlier this is done, the better. There may be delays in the design or printing, and you don’t want to put on a play without it!

To give your play a professional air, outsource the printing of these booklets. You’ve worked hard on this production, and you don’t want it to feel cheap. A saddle-stitched booklet that’s laser printed from a professional print shop will make a great first impression.

7. Tailor the Costumes

If your play requires elaborate costumes, start looking right away. If it’s a popular play, a costume shop will have everything you need. Otherwise, you may use a seamstress to help you produce the necessary costumes.

You may also ask cast members to gather pieces of their costume themselves. For example, most people own a black shirt and black shoes, so if that’s part of the ensemble, have individual cast members provide their own.

8. Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse

You’ll need several weeks, if not months, to rehearse the play, at least a few nights per week. During casting, make sure that the performers can make the rehearsal dates you’ve designated.

Give yourself a week or two of dress rehearsals. This is the time when the show really comes together. People will finally remember their lines, you’ll work out costume kinks, and get tech on the same page.

9. Break a Leg!

Finally, all your hard work is coming to a peak. It’s time to put on your play and break a leg!

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