Here is a rough outline of a project plan and some useful tools you can use to manage your next production…
- Useful Stuff – a whole lot of links to things that will help you learn about theatre including where to find scripts and other resources
AFTER YOU FIND A SCRIPT YOU LIKE
- Project Proposal – fill out this document as much as you can before you ask for funding for your project, it will help you find backers/funding by having all the main details in one document.
- Project Budget – estimate all the income and expense items you’ll need for your project, and track them during the life of the project
- Once your backers give the go ahead, make a tentative venue booking, and obtain all the performing rights and permissions you need before taking the next step
- Recruit your creative team early – this includes Stage Manager, Assistant Director, Lighting/Video/Sound/Costume/Set/Props/Makeup/Hair Designers and Marketing.
- If you have participants under 18 or vulnerable people in your cast or crew, you and your senior crew MUST have a valid Working With Children Check (WWCC) and must familiarise yourselves with and adhere to your organisations Child Safe Policy (this information is specific to NSW but similar arrangements exist in all states in Australia – check what applies in your state).
- The Producer must verify the WWCC of senior crew online before they are permitted to work with young people under 18.
- Child Safe/Vulnerable Person Policy – ensure from the start that ALL cast and crew, as well as parents and carers are aware of their obligations and risk avoidance procedures to follow if you have under 18s or other vulnerable people involved in your production, as well as who anyone can go to to report a problem.
- Everyone should be made aware of Work Health and Safety Procedures, especially working at heights and use of electrical equipment.
- Ensure that all cast have access to a private space to change, and that all cast should use this space to avoid embarrassment to other cast members.
- If productions are at night or in less than ideal locations, ensure that all cast and crew have appropriate arrangements in place for transport and are not left vulnerable by having to walk through carparks, carry box office money, expensive equipment etc alone.
- Cast and Crew Sign Up – form for cast and crew to complete when they apply to be in a production, including contact details, availability (dates and times, blackout periods), transport (drive, lifts etc), permission to use their photo/video for marketing purposes etc
- Run the auditions and call backs and cast your play. Inform all auditionees of the result (not just the successful ones) and check that they are still committed to the role.
- Have a backup plan in case any of your cast can’t accept the role, change their mind or have to drop out before the show – this happens more often that you think.
- Give kind but constructive feedback to anyone who missed out. It will help them next time they audition, and they are more likely to auditionfor another show, when they might be perfect for a different role.
- If feasible, offer an unsuccessful actor the role of understudy/rehearsal stand-in for when your cast members can’t be there – it will happen – or a crew position.
- Make your cast/crew announcement an event – it will make your cast feel wanted, increasing their commitment to the production, and is a great opportunity to market the upcoming show to the media.
- Ideas Board – it’s useful to collect images that express your “vision” for the production in terms of set, props, costumes, lighting etc to show your cast and crew. It could be a Word document, photos, a collection of image files, links to web pages, music, videos, physical items or a private Facebook group.
- Props List – work out what stage and personal props are needed, work with the Props Manager to source props, when, where they need to be placed before the show and who owns them so they can be returned after the show
- Sets List – helps the Director and Set Designer to plan the set requirements for each scene
- Actor Dressing List – helps your costume designer know what is required for each character. Can be added to during rehearsals so your costume assistant knows what costume items are needed for each actor and where to put them
- Set Design – you and your set designer will sign off the design used to construct the production set as well as a list of materials needed
- Lighting/Video Design – used to define the video, lighting states, colours and effects to be used in the production. You and your lighting designer will sign off the design before lights and associated materials are hired/borrowed/purchased
- Lighting/Video Plan – shows the physical layout of projections, lights, dimmers and controllers around the set based on the Lighting/Video Design
- Lighting/Video Plot – defines cues for video projections and lighting states as well as timing of fades in/out on a marked-up script and in the control software
- Sound Design – used to define the music and sound effects to be used in the production. You and your sound designer will sign off the design before equipment and sounds are hired/borrowed/purchased
- Sound Files – these need to be collected and licences paid for (PPCA/APRA/Other) before the production begins.
- Check out Useful Stuff for sources of royalty free sounds and music.
- Sound Plot – defines cues for sound effects and music as well as timing of fades in/out on a marked-up script and in the control software
- Costume Design – you and your costume designer will sign off the design for each role before making/purchasing items.
- Rehearsal Schedule – draw up a schedule that helps make the most effective use of time for everyone.
- Accident and Injury Form – make sure all cast and crew are aware of their obligation to report any injuries to the Producer or Director
- Child Safe/Vulnerable People Policy – ensure from the start that ALL cast and crew as well as parents and carers are aware of obligations and procedures to follow if you have under 18s or other vulnerable people involved in your production.
- Cast and Crew Contact List – make sure people know who to contact for what. Check in that people are happy for their contact details to be shared within the production and respect the wishes of those who do not want them shared other than with the director. Establish early on how and when you will communicate important details with your cast and crew.
- Costume Measurements – get your cast to fill this out as early as possible so your wardrobe crew can start finding or making costumes.
- The first rehearsal should involve all cast and crew. Set the scene, communicate your vision for the production (use the Ideas Board). Read through the play in full, noting any questions, comments or unknown words.
- Set expectations about rehearsal times, ensure that you are using the cast and crew’as time efficiently (don’t ask people to be at rehearsals when they don’t need to be)
- Have an action list at the end of each rehearsal and assign who will follow up tasks and by when.
- Allow each actor to have time with you one on one to discuss their specific character(s), assign research tasks (eg accents, character analysis)
- Allow each designer time to discuss their design ideas with you so they can go and prepare designs for signoff
- Once cast know their lines, bring them back into the rehearsal room together.
BEFORE PRODUCTION WEEK
- Technical Markup – Copies of the script needs to be marked up during rehearsals in PENCIL for each main crew member as follows:
- Stage Manager – entrances/exits/set changes/prop changes/sound, lighting and other tech cues
- Sound/Lighting/Video operators – sound SFX cues and lighting LX cues and video VX cues
- Wardrobe manager – costume changes (if any)
- Technical Cue Input – all cues from the Technical Markup Script are entered into the control software (eg QLab, MultiPlay)
- Running Sheet – use this for your Stage Manager, stage crew and cast to know who is entering/exiting where and when and what props need to go on/come off See Sample
- Check out StageFlight’s Useful Stuff for sources of royalty free sounds and music
- Audacity – free editing software for music/sound clips
- MultiPlay – free sound cueing software (video possible with work) – Windows only
- QLab – cueing software for sound/lighting/video – Mac only
- GoButton – sound cueing software – Mac/iOs only
- iMixPro – pro audio, video and image cueing – iOs only
- CSC Show Control – pro sound control software – Windows only
- Cue Player – sound, video and lighting – Windows only
- Trigger – Audio and video playback – Windows and Mac