If you’re reviewing play scripts to potentially perform whether it is a drama, one act play, scenes, or even a comedy, make sure you do the homework first. Yes, I know you want to do a cutting edge piece, something that really makes a statement, something different… right?
So on the subject of play scripts: That is all good but how do you intend to stay afloat if not everyone feels your passion to do these works? There are several things to consider in addition to getting feedback from your play reading committee. Here are a few items to evaluate and challenging questions to ask:
1. First of all what is the potential percentage in each age range the subject matter will attract? Break down the ages to these categories 15-40, 41-65, 65+ then review to your specific demographics and who might attend. If there is a match… then you are over your first obstacle.
2. Next, overall will the piece be exciting, gripping and/or possibly engaging for the audience? Most people come to theater to be entertained and not take a two-hour nap. If your piece is unknown you have to visualize if it will hold people’s attention and they will recommend it to others.
3. Yep, that leads us to our next question… is there the potential of audience interaction and positive word of mouth to others? You can bet if they like what they see then ticket sales will spike by attendees spreading the word. If not… and you will flat line (so to speak), where ticket sales lag… then you will have to stress about breaking even.
4. Concerning play scripts and based on content, does the performance have the possibility of making anyone uncomfortable? Sounds like a silly question but in this day and age there are a variety of things that will make people squirm or feel disgusted by what they see. Even crude humor might backfire.
5. What is the ability of the talent pool and quantity of area performers to perform the roles? There is nothing worse than seeing a performer out of place in their role on stage or you simply don’t have enough of a particular type of actor in your immediate area. This could make you pull your hair out filling cast or even worse… run the risk of flat lining.
6. Will attendees be inclined to bring their friends or family members? Well… if the cast has a diverse group of actor chances are you are appealing to a larger group along with friends and family. If the subject matter of the play scripts you’re reviewing lend themselves to a younger cast, then you are encouraging their friends, parents and even grandparents, aunts and uncles to attend.
7. Is there a message and what emotion will the audience leave with? Hopefully they leave with the emotion that they have been entertained. This is where you ask your play reading committee to assess this important question. Happy, sad, enlightened, educated, enriched in some way from a message or situation, these are all things to consider when the time comes to promote the production.
8. Any obstacles in Language in the play scripts, Sound and clarity of expression or Lighting? There is nothing more frustrating than being distracted from clarity, the actor’s vocal projection or other sound issues. That leads to being absolutely sure you have sufficient equipment to sound, light and stage the production you have in mind.
9. Will attendees impression of your venue based on their experience change? You see the audience experience extends past the performance into the venue itself. They may think twice if the venue was dark and dingy, the play was terrible and the house staff was not very friendly. Sound unusual… the fact is it could be potentially the best production in the world but if attendees are turned off by what they see on stage or experience in the facility, there may not be a next time.
10. The percentage of overall attendees that will understand what the play was about? “I didn’t get it” is a common statement. What they are really saying is that they hated it… it’s the same thing. So make sure that the majority of attendees will get the story, and the story moves smoothly through transitions. Success from reviewing all those play scripts!
John DeGaetano is Director, Actor and Business Advisor in the San Francisco Bay Area and author of several new original full length plays scripts and 10 minute plays for the theater. All plays are available on Amazon Author Page or John DeGaetano Productions website.