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Chapter 3: Writing Mechanics Help
Chapter 12: Teaching Writing
Chapter 23: Teaching Reading
College English Composition: Help and Review
About Lesson

Producing a Play

Finally, your chance to produce a full play has come to pass. You’ve spent years waiting for this moment, working your way up from backstage help, to taking drama lessons, and even directing a couple of plays. However, it is finally your chance to shine and produce an entire production. No pressure, right? Not exactly.

Being a producer is a complicated affair; after all, as a producer you are the one ultimately responsible for everything about the play. In this lesson, we’re going to take a look at all the extra work that a producer has to do to make sure that opening night goes off without a hitch and that the only legs broken are metaphorical ones.

Administrative Matters

Well, before anything else happens on a play, the producer has to go to work on various administrative matters. After all, plays don’t just happen by themselves. Foremost, a producer must make sure that a play has a place to be performed. With the exception of a few experimental plays that perform anywhere, most plays like to have a venue. Whether it is an opera hall or an intimate playhouse, performances need to have a place to occur.

Still, that’s not all that a producer has to attend to. They must also secure the rights for the play in question. Granted, many plays are in the public domain, meaning that nobody owns the rights to them. No one is really going to stop you from doing Romeo and Juliet because it’s free to use. However, if you want to put on a newer play, say one off of Broadway, then you’re going to have to secure those rights for the right to perform that play. That requires a payment to the people who own the play, often the playwright.

Dramatic Elements

Once a venue and rights are secured, a producer can turn his attention to more dramatic elements of the play. Granted, we are not to the point of actually rehearsing yet, but we’re getting closer.

First things first, you should figure out who is directing the play. In many cases, that may be the producer; however, that is a great deal of pressure on one person, and for that reason, many producers opt to instead hire a director. Alongside the director, auditions for all the roles have to be held in order to make sure that the play has actors.

Finally, other aspects of the play should be nailed down by the producer. These include any music or lighting experts, as well as design for sets and the necessity for props. The director will often handle the particulars of these arrangements, but the producer has to be there to make them happen in the first place.

The Play Itself

So, now that all of that is done, the producer can merely lean back, relax, and enjoy the show, right? Far from it. Plays have to make money, and, at the very least, pay the bills and, more often than not, pay the salaries of all those involved. Therefore, the producer should try to secure sponsorship for the production. Often, this is done earlier, but it should be done before publicity is begun.

Speaking of publicity, the producer also has to get the word out about the play. This often means making sure that print and broadcast advertisements feature plenty of references to the play, as well as making sure that critics are on hand to review the work.

Additionally, the producer is still responsible for maintaining a handle on all things related to the play itself. From making sure that the director has all the tools necessary to perform, to preparing the rehearsal schedules, to making sure the performances are up to par.

Lesson Summary

In this lesson, we took a look at all that was necessary to produce a dramatic performance. We started with the work of the producer before the first actors receive their lines, learning that the producers have to secure the rights to scripts, as well as arrange for a venue for performances.

From there, producers also have to find a director, as well as supervise hiring actors, lighting professionals, and a stage crew. Alongside these responsibilities, a producer must also manage the financial side of putting on a performance. Along the way, the producer also manages publicity for the play, as well as ensures that rehearsal schedules are ready to make sure that the play is a success.

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