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Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Numbers

So, the show is still churning and life goes on as it will. I'm seeing Nerve tonight and looking forward to it. We have a long schedule this week...Tuesday-Saturday. So if anyone wants to come Tuesday...hey, that's a nice thing, no?

Right now, the Showcase Code is doing us about as much good as the Electoral College has been doing the concept of Democracy.

I'm of the belief that the only way for Equity to reform the Showcase Code is for actor's within the organization to demand it. Actor's Equity will react with hostility to producers who want more freedoms. A solid case needs to be made that the Showcase Code, and indeed, the entire system in New York, should be changed to reflect the truth of the economics and state-of-the-Arts.

An important step, though, is to formalize the complaints and debate. There are very few organized facts about Non-Broadway, Non-Off-Broadway Theaters and how they function financially. How much do most companies spend on their shows? How often do they profit? What do they generally spend?

I would like to set up a survey to gather statistics and create a broad overview of the financial state and general business practices of the Off-Off or "Indie" world of New York theater. Of course, I'm completely inexperienced.

What sort of questions need to be asked? Hit my comments.


Jamespeak said...

I'm in agreement with your assessment of the Showcase Code.

I'm not sure if this really answers your question (since I think it'd take me about 20 or 30 pages to just start answering it), but I will say I'm not the wildest fan of Equity because of their stranglehold practices on indie shows receiving publicity (I'll rant about how the AEA royally effed Nosedive in trying to publicize an earlier show of ours at length at some other time) and extending runs.

We don't have any Equity actors in Nervous Boy, which is why we've been able to extend the run.

My bottom-line on the subject is that the AEA is antiquated and in a lot of ways no longer relevant. This doesn't mean it should be abolished, but instead updated to fit in with the realities of the theatre-making world.

(But yeah, in the eyes of Equity, me being the Big Bad Producer trashing the Showcase Code is like President Bush calling Ted Kennedy to abdicate his seat in the Senate. It's going to take Equity actors to say that the Code is outdated and hurtful.)

Kevin said...

Lots of survey questions would be about numbers, no? The budget thing, broken down into just a very few categories. Rehearsal space, performance space, ticket revenue, donations, marketing, wages, etc. As few categories as it makes sense to have. Lots of detail is needed by individual groups more than on a survey. Number of performances and number of cast and crew members, too.

Has any group successfully got beyond showcase by organic growth, or does it all depend on one large donation to grow to the next level? That would be really helpful to learn, actually -- how others have grown beyond basic showcase, and what percentage never do it. The one tricky thing for many groups is how to grow by reasonably sized steps -- and it always seems a few more seats to sell at a slightly higher price would help immensely to take those steps (while awaiting the swooping down of one's angel, natch). How could incrementally larger numbers be embraced by AEA? The idea of paying actors a little more doesn't seem to appeal to them, but if enough actors speak up, that might do something.