So, you want to be a Theatre Producer?
This is an odd blog post for me. For a start it's not about babies, at least not exclusively. Some would say I'm diversifying, writing in multiple genres, channelling a new audience. For me, it feels a bit like moonlighting.
It also feels a bit, I don't know, fraudulent. I wrote a moderately successful baby blog, Baby Loves Porridge, because I HAD A BABY. I knew what I was talking about. And even if people didn't agree, it didn't really matter because we all know that there is no wrong or right way to bring up a baby. We all just give it a go, try our hardest and hope for the best. But this time I'm writing a theatre blog in my new role as theatre producer. What do I know about being a theatre producer?? Exactly. About as much as I did about being a mother before I was a mother. Not a whole big pile.
Well, that's not strictly true I guess. I follow @westendproducer on Twitter. He's taught me a thing or two. I also bought 'Theatre Producers for dummies' and read some of it, the back cover at least. And I've been involved in theatre for about twenty years in some guise or another, mostly prancing about the stage but often on production teams, on committees, raising funds, at AGMs, organising concerts, selling tickets, hosting corporate clients. In fact, during my time at Trinity College Dublin I was a member of Players Theatre and I was producer on a number of shows while I was there. Most memorable was Spike Milligan's 'The Case of the Mukkinese Battle Horn'. [I am very pleased I didn't have to google this title, it has been engrained so intensely in my memory.] Memorable moments include: 1. It was really very funny. 2. My da travelled all the way down from Co.Tyrone to watch a matinee performance. 3. The entire set fell down at that same performance. 4. One of our leading men got sick a few days before the show and pulled out, headed back to Mullingar for some TLC from his mam, and I ended up playing the Inspector's sidekick because I knew all the lines. 5. As theatre producer I had to raise the funds and spent a few weeks going up and down Dublin city centre streets in search for rich benefactors, and was completely repulsed by the man who ran a little shop around Merrion Row. He was a pure sleaze-bucket and held on to the cheque he was handing me for IR£50 just a little too long. Boke. In contrast the wee man who ran the Rathmines Bookshop was a dote and gave IR£30 to every production performed at Players. 6. Spike Milligan came to Trinity that year as a guest speaker and we all went to hear him speak (quite inaudibly at that stage, bless him) in the Old Reading Room.
Anyway, I digress. I have dabbled in theatre production over the years, but this is the first time I am doing it for real. My 'real' job for the last 12 years has been marketing and project managing initiatives to make corporate fat cats fatter. And I guess I can say that I was pretty good at it. But now I want to use the skills I have honed over the years to make theatre in Belfast fatter, brighter and jazzier (without putting me in the poorhouse in the process). And so, here it is:
Blunt Fringe Productions is a new 'fringe' theatre production company in Belfast which aims to provide a professional platform for our leading talents in musical theatre. It was inspired by the fringe theatre that exists mostly in London that allows very successful actors and musicians to perform in much smaller theatres in between their 'proper' jobs. The trick is to create something so different and quirky that it attracts the stars of professional theatre to be in it, and attracts the Northern Irish audience to want to see it. So Blunt Fringe Productions will seek out the new and innovative musicals and shows and perform them in intimate, cabaret-style theatres - be that a studio theatre in town or in a room above a pub.
Our first full-scale production is an actor-musician version of 'The World Goes 'Round' by Kander and Ebb, which will be presented from 14th-18th January 2014 at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast. It has an all-star cast who between them have performed on the West End, off the West End, on national tour and on TV! It will be directed by Aislinn Clarke, founder and Artistic Director of Northern Ireland's only audio theatre company Wireless Mystery Theatre, whose work had been broadcast on BBC, UTV, RTE and most recently on BBC Radio 3 Proms. We have no less than 2 musical directors - Sean Pol McGreevy in London and Nicholas Boyle in Belfast, and the artwork for the production has just been created by Rory Jeffers from the prestigious offices of Jeffers & Sons.
That's the press release version. Sounds impressive, non? I have done what any good manager does which is to surround myself with the best people in the business, and be grateful that they are happy to come along for the ride..but it still surprises me how impressive it is. It might be the first and last thing that I do, but I really hope not. I have lots and lots of plans for future productions. The blog will hopefully be a bit less formal than the press release as it talks about the highs and lows of being a theatre producer. It's me, it's new and it's terribly exciting. Terrifying too in some ways, but definitely exciting.
Wish me luck!