What kind of story do you want to tell?

What kind of story do you want to tell?

The reason that picking a show comes after planning is because you want to make sure you pick a show that supports your plan, not building a company around a show. This helps you be more intentional about the work you create and gives you a stronger foundation.


A lot of being a producer has to do with mindful reflection, especially when it comes to picking the stories you want to tell. There are no right answers to these questions, some things might be a bigger priority to you than to someone else, but you need to know these answers because they will keep you grounded and make you a stronger leader for your creative team.

  • What stories impact you the most?

  • What kind of story do you want to tell?

  • How do you want to express that story?

  • Who is this story for?

  • What's the goal of the project?

  • This needs to be clear because this is your anchor point.

  • This will help you say yes or no to ideas from the team

  • There is no right answer, if your goal is about trying to figure out new technology, trying to showcase your talents, trying to learn a new skill set, all of those are correct answers.

  • If you don’t have an idea yet, it’s okay! One might magically come to you.

Logistics of picking a show

Once again this is a little bit of a reality check for when you are considering a show. This isn't to say you can never do things outside your comfort zone, but if it is your first couple of projects you want to make sure you're picking something sustainable for yourself.

The best piece of advice is that you should NOT try and do your big dream project as your first show, work up to it! What is a similar show that might be on a smaller scale? Instead of a musical of 20 people, how about a musical of 4 people with similar themes. You can then build up incrementally and intentionally project by project. Creating theatre takes time and patience, which is better than burning out and burning bridges

So when you are thinking of a show be mindful of the following questions:

  • What’s your cast size?

  • Will it need specialized design elements (like period costumes)?

  • Do you have the time, energy, and resources to tell this story in the way you envision it?

  • How long of a run is this going to be?

There is no RIGHT ANSWER to the show to pick - just different challenges and figuring out what your priorities are.


Types of shows to consider

There are countless types of theatre and shows, and almost any type of performance based art can be considered theatre, but consider some of the pros and cons of doing different types of theatre.


Traditional vs. Experimental

  • At this moment, it is really challenging to say what is a more "marketable" type of show, traditional theatre or experimental theatre.

  • Is the show you have in mind in-person or digital? Is it immersive? Site-Specific? Or in a more traditional theatre venue.

  • Is it more linear and plot-focused or more absurd or movement-based?

  • How does the medium affect the story you’re telling and the audience you're reaching?

Mainstream vs. New Works

  • Mainstream shows, or shows are more well known to the general public, have an easier time being marketed, but you’re also competing against people’s expectations of a commonly produced show.

  • Lesser known or original works can be exciting, but hard to market as a new company.

  • You can also find an in-between of doing lesser-known works of well-known artists.

Musical vs. Play

  • Musical Theatre audiences and Play audiences tend to be very different.

  • Generally, musicals are easier to market, but they are harder to produce because they require more production value, like microphones, a band, and more sturdy costume pieces. They can also be harder to cast.

  • Plays might take more marketing, but have a little more flexibility in production requirements.

Devised works

Devised works are something that can be extremely challenging but also extremely rewarding to create. They are collaborative, but they take the largest amount of management as you coordinate schedules, workshops, and anything else needed to get the show up and running.


Other points to consider

As a creative, you're allowed to try different types of works to see which one feels the most exciting to you, and while you want to keep your audience in mind as part of the community you're serving, you don't always have to prioritize "palatability" or "marketability" of "traditional theatre audiences." As the industry continues to change, feel free to create whatever resonates with you and your community.


Where to find shows

Now that you know what kind of show you want to produce, let's talk about the ever daunting but necessary conversation about budget.