Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Opera in the Better Borough

So I'm a little Brooklyn biased, and when good things are happening here, I think everyone should know about them.  When this nugget came across my radar, I couldn't help but share it.  I mean, they made a docu-trailer for an opera!  Who doesn't love a good trailer?  Any how, this isn't your typical opera, and I have a feeling the crowd won't feel quite the same as the one at the Met, but I think its pretty cool, and definitely worth checking out.

Tydrus the Twit
A new opera by Zeke Virant and the Brain Rain Players

December 8, 10, 11 at 8pm

December 9 at 9pm * $5
Presented by The Bushwick Project for the Arts

The Brain Rain Players and Bushwick Project for the Arts are proud to present the premiere of “Tydrus the Twit,” a new opera. "Tydrus the Twit" is about a middle-Georgia punk's inability to get a job and his bad trip through a dream world filled with witches and hopeless love. The opera is an immersive musical world spanning the intense reality of a small, southern town and the dreams of its occupants.

The Brain Rain Players are an operatic group of free jazz improvisors, untrained singers, performance artists,
and other widely talented persons. With a multi-disciplinary approach that combines spoken dialogue with
environmental and procedural music, the Brain Rain Players bring opera's irrational forms to the forefront of the theater.


The music for “Tydrus the Twit” combines instrumental music and unmusical sounds made by the mouth. The
score specifically avoids the carefully notated practices of traditional opera, relying instead on procedural
notation and musical games employing the entire ensemble. These practices, designed with an eye to creating
an immersive theatrical environment, includes singing, blowing on bottles, laughing, clicking tongues, whistling,
buzzing, grunting, yawning, and spitting.  “Tydrus the Twit” expresses a world of sound that is not dependent on technical ability and draws out unique responses from each musician.

Bushwick Project fot the Arts
304 Meserole St. 

Brooklyn, NY 11206
Off the Montrose Ave. L stop

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The More You Give The More You Get

image from marathondynamics.com
It's December.  Tonite's the first night of Hanukkah and we're a few short weeks away from Christmas.  The holidays can be daunting, especially when you're already juggling a busy schedule and carrying the world on your shoulders.  The moment that you feel you're completely running on empty is exactly when you should start giving. 

I'm not talking about annual appeals and end of the year giving, I'm not even talking about toys for tots.  When you feel like your plate is overflowing you have reached the perfect moment to ask your coworkers, friends, family if they need any help.  It seems counterintuitive to offer favors left and right when you can't get your own checklist wittled down, but it works.  When you open yourself up to helping others, you fill up your tank in more ways than one.  Think about it:

"When you help others, you can't help helping yourself." ~Avenue Q (gotta throw in those theater references)  Helping out someone else just feels good.  You get a break from your own tasks and you help someone cross something off their list.  Instant satisfaction from crossing something off a list? Check.

What goes around, comes around.  When you help someone, they remember it.  They're going to want to help you out too.  People often don't remember things you say, but they remember the way you made them feel, and if you helped them reach a sense of accomplishment, they're going to feel good.  Instant teamwork? Check.

There are a million reasons to pay it forward, so get to it!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The most important element of your social media strategy is customer service.

image: the biomed library public services blog
Yes folks, the most important element of your social media plan is not your twitter account, or the SEO of your website, or even the number of likes you have on Facebook. The number one, absolutely most important thing is the experience your guests/customers/patrons have when they walk in the door of your establishment. This is because social media is based on a conversation, of which you are only one part. The other end of this discussion is fueled by the people who use your service/buy your product. Therefore, if you’re serving up an inferior product or a bad experience, you’re going to hear about and so are all your potential guests/customers/patrons.

Here’s the good news, if you’re doing it right, someone will talk about it. If you’re providing people with great experiences and excellent products they’re going to say something, they’ll even stick up for you if some outlier is railing your cause. By providing a great customer experience and delivering a great product, your social mediums will flourish simply by interacting and responding to your constituency. On the other hand, if you’re peddling something that’s sub par, you’re going to have to deal with a lot of bad viral PR on social media platforms, and it takes a lot of work to dig yourself out of that hole.

So what does that mean for theater?

1. The art is important. Make sure that you’re building marketing and outreach strategies around great works of theater and not the other way around. Building a product to fit a marketing pitch is a recipe for disaster.

2. Prepare your front of house staff. From box office personnel, to ushers, all the way to sanitation, you need to cultivate a front of house staff that is passionate about your theater and well versed in customer service. As the saying goes “People may not remember what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel.”

3. When you get negative feedback on a social media platform, deal with it. Don’t get defensive or try to block someone and hide all evidence. Engage people who didn’t like your show or had a bad experience and grow from it. Let your audience know when you’re making improvements and thank them for bringing problems to your attention when appropriate. People like to be validated, and if you can improve their experience the next time around, they’re likely to be your biggest advocate going forward.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Social Media for Development

This is just a thought I've been toying around with for a few weeks now, but I wanted to throw it out there and get a conversation going.

photo borrowed from searchenginejournal.com
I feel as arts organizations have ventured into the realm of new and social medias that they're going in with the mindset of "reaching the audience" and "interacting with our audience", which is an extremely valuable and sensible goal.  Isn't audience engagement also part of the donor cultivation strategy?  Isn't social media a great way to connect with our tech savvy donors (who are actually of all ages because lets face it, most industries are way ahead of us when it comes to technology, regardless of whether they are millenials or boomers)?  Wouldn't a donor feel more connected with your organization if they were directly interacting with you everyday?

If you work for an arts organization, or any nonprofit for that matter, that's utilizing social media in your development strategy I would love to hear from you.  Comment here, tweet me @thecastparty or shoot me an email at aubrie.thecastparty@gmail.com. Let's talk!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Value of Math

Photo from icanseenewyorkcityfrommyhouse.tumblr.com
 How many people go into the arts because they like numbers?  All of you!? 

In my high school statistics class there was a chart on the wall of about 50 different professions and the different kinds of math (ie geometry, calculus, statistics, algebra).  At the time I was convinced that I was going to be the U.S. cultural attache to some fabulous exotic country, and guess what, my profession totally wasn't on the list, nor was any other arts profession!

I was pretty convinced that I was off the hook and I was never going to need math.  I know all you arts administrators are laughing your hard working booties off right now, and with good reason.  Tracking numbers is a HUGE part of our job.  From building budgets to tracking your audience demographics to the click through rates on email campaigns, numbers can tell us almost anything.  The thing about numbers, however, is that you have to understand them to do anything with them.  So all youproducers and arts managers who don't love numbers, get yourself into a statistics class that's heavy on the excel and I promise it will change the way you do business for the better!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Back to School I Go

"Dreams do come true, if only we wish hard enough. You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it."
J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan)

I'm headed back to school this week, to begin work on an MFA in Performing Arts Management.  I have given up my job, salary, and potential earnings for the next 2 years to work towards a bigger goal. 

I'm incredibly excited about what this means for my career, but also for this blog.  I'll be able to share with you insights to the theater business from a more informed perspective and hopefully be able to come up with some creative ideas of my own.

Here we go!

Friday, July 30, 2010


Your Welcome.

(Gypsies, Tramps and Tacos, tomorrow night!)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I hate it when the President steals my thoughts

"Over the years, musicals have also been at the forefront of our social consciousness, challenging stereotypes, shaping our opinions about race and religion, death and disease, power and politics.

But perhaps the most American part of this truly American art form is its optimism.  Broadway music calls us to see the best in ourselves and in the world around us -– to believe that no matter how hopeless things may seem, the nice guy can still get the girl, the hero can still triumph over evil, and a brighter day can be waiting just around the bend."

~President Barack Obama at last night's White House Music Series Broadway event

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Stop, Collaborate and Listen!

Cheesy as all get-out, but I couldn't help myself.  Besides, who says it better than Vanilla Ice?  Let's talk about everyone's favorite subject: fundraising!  

1.STOP making more work for yourself than there already is.  Fundraising isn't what you do, it's how you afford to do what it is you realllly do.  So keep the main thing the main thing, and stop making it such a big part of your day to day.

2. COLLABORATE with other organizations.  Find someone out there who's doing something complimentary to what you do.  Recently, I partnered with a musician who was doing an album launch, and asked if we could make it a fundraiser for an organization I work with.  Two half hour meetings and no output cost to us later, we had raised money for a great cause, and made a lot of great contacts. 

3. LISTEN to what's going on around you.  Pay attention to what other organizations and individuals are saying, you might just pick up some good ideas, leads on funding, or find a potential COLLABORATION opportunity.

Just remember, when it comes to fundraising (and life in general), work smart, not hard, and you'll have more time to focus on what's really important.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Theater in the Park....in Brooklyn :)

I know everyone gets excited about Shakespeare in the Park every summer (rightfully so, The Public Theater is a fine and well functioning entity), but my life is more Brooklyn-centric, so I try to find things closer to home. 

In addition to free movies and concerts- Movies with a View (Thursdays- Brooklyn Bridge Park) and Celebrate Brooklyn (various- Prospect Park Bandshell), you can also get FREE THEATER in the better borough. 

Brokelyn (awesome blog-check it out), compiled a great list of upcoming productions under the stars in Brooklyn: http://www.brokelyn.com/get-dramatic-over-brooklyns-free-summer-theater/.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Musical Mondays

Every Monday at Splash Bar from 7-midnight is "Musical Monday", and since it doesn't get any better than drag queens and dreamgirls, I try to get there every now and again.  If you live in NYC and love musicals I HIGHLY recommend it.  They only play videos from musicals, and there's some sort of Happy Hour situation that goes on before 9pm.  WARNING: Drinks are strong here :)

Anyhow, some lovely ladies hit up Splash Bar with me last night and we rocked out.  Today has been a challenge, but I wouldn't trade my Musical Monday for the world.  Much love goes out to my fellow theater professionals/fanatics!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Biting the Bullet

We all do it.  Hopefully not on a daily basis, but often.  Getting on that wayyyy overcrowded subway train so you can make it to work on time.  Working through the weekend to get a project done.  Eating spinach to stay healthy, or ramen noodles to save cash.

We bite the bullet.  It is part of being a grown up (and it's not as sexy as this photo would lead you believe).  We make choices, and do things that we'd rather not do in the interest of something more important, or simply because we have to, because it's the only way to survive.

Well I've been biting the bullet lately.  I picked up a serving job (which I'd sworn off for all eternity) on the weekends to save money for graduate school in August.  Working 7 days a week is not ideal, but it's not all bad either.

As artists and arts professionals, you bite the bullet more often than most of your peers.  Contrary to the lives of those in the corporate world, you may or may not have a regular salary, and if you do it's probably less than ideal.  You work more hours than your counterparts, probably gave up your weekends to performances, and spend your money on honing your craft or production. 

But we are so lucky.  We get to do something we love.  Something we are passionate about.  While you may not have all of the things and vacations you want, you do have fulfillment.  And since you work so hard, you probably sleep well at night (once you finally make it to bed).

So kudos to you, all the grown ups who didn't give up on childhood dreams.  Because while "living the dream" may not have panned out to be everything we thought it would, we're still living it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Logistics of the Show: LOST edition

So, over at Artistew (the conglomerate blog of artists I contribute to), it's LOST week.  So, today, we'll hit a little bit of a LOST vein.  Also, if you're not reading Artistew, you should be, it's way more interesting than this guy, because there are mutliple personalities running around in there (mine included). 

If you are a LOST fan, you no doubt noticed the lack of certain characters in the ending.  This irked the bejesus out of me.  What about Walt?  His dog was in the episode, but no Walt.  Remember waaaay back in Season 2 when Mr. Eko was building a church on the island?  Helllloooo?  Parallel to the church in the finale? I think so.  Then why no Mr. Eko?  Those I've talked to have their various explanations about these character's irrelevancy to the others, etc, but i still think it's lame.

MY instinct was, "Maybe all the actors weren't available."  I was told that this was indeed laughable, because LOST had more money than god, and could get ANYTHING they wanted for the finale, but it brought up the question to me, "What about the rest of us?"

What about those of us working on shows that don't have million dollar budgets?  We make sacrifices to our vision and have to re-write scenes and intentions to accomodate for the limitations of our budgets and the constraints of live theater.  Who is the better artist?  The one who sticks with their initial intentions, can afford everything they want and preserve the complete original integrity of their vision?  Or is it better to be the artist who can adapt a piece to a community and a budget? 

Some of us will find ourselves on a journey where we must adapt early in our careers and as we build our credibility and success we'll have the luxury of sticking to our guns, but will that make us better?  Aren't we always growing and improving when we're faced with a seemingly insurmountable challenge and find a creative solution? 

So here's my conclusion to the LOST effect, clearly we had some really genius and creative people involved.  And they had some crazy ideas that turned into a black cloud monster/man in black/body snatcher of sorts (that turned out to be reallly cool), but because they could have WHATEVER THEY WANTED, we were also presented with polar bears, and characters who were kind of swept under the rug as they tried to tie up all the loose ends.  So kudos, LOST for presenting us with a fairly satisfying ending, in spite of the missing pieces created by your overindulgence.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Why you have to put it in writing

I don't know about you, but I've got a pretty good memory.  Unfortunately, not everyone remembers things in the same way, or with the same terms.  We all know how vital it is to sign contracts for rentals, jobs, agreements, etc.  If it isn't in writing, it didn't happen, right?

So why is it that we make deals with ourselves all the time that we don't put into writing.  What did you tell yourself you were going to do this week?

"I'm going to eat healthy.  I'm going to see 3 shows.  I'm going to submit to 12 auditions.  I'm going to follow up with a potential investor.  I'm going to call my Grandma on her birthday.  I'm going to get 7 hours of sleep a night.  I'm going to write 4 blog posts."

Whatever it is that you put on your plate this week, I bet you didn't do it if you didn't put it in writing.  Putting menial, yet necessary tasks into your calendar and on a to-do list will skyrocket the likelihood that you get it done.  We're busy people, and if we don't build our priorities into our schedules we'll find something else to do, and before you know it, it's Sunday night and you've accomplished nothing you intended to accomplish.

(this photo from Bramanga.com totally makes you want an android, no?)

I'm going to eat healthy into, I will purchase healthy items at the grocery store on Sunday at 3pm to prepare meals throughout the week.

I'm going to see 3 shows to, I'm seeing X on Tuesday at 7, Y on Thursday at 8, and Z at 2 on Saturday.

I'm going to submit to 12 auditions to 15 minutes every morning to browsing auditions and submitting (put it in your calendar, make it an alert on your alarm clock)

I'm going to follow up with a potential investor by calling her on Monday during my lunch break.

I'm going to call Grandma at 4pm on Tuesday.

I'm going to sleep 7 hours, Set a bedtime alarm and a morning alarm on your cell phone.  Lock it.

I'm going to write 4 blog posts to I'll submit my posts on Mon-Thurs at noon.

If you're anything like me, you'll see this and think, "I can't live my life so structured!  Things come up, I want to have room to be spontaneous!  I don't keep a calendar."  But I promise you, if you start scheduling your priorities, not only will you accomplish more, you'll find more time in your life.  More time= more opportunity to be unstructured and spontaneous.  Get the things you need to do out of the way by structuring them, and you open up the rest of your life to do whatever you want.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Karma's a Bitch

As luck would have it, I wrote an article about staying healthy and promptly got a cold.  Epic fail.   

Since I'm feeling congested and lazy, I'm throwing you a link this week:

It's the Emerging Leaders section of Americans for th Arts, ArtsBlog.  If you're not subscribed to their feed you should be.

Photo borrowed from soulcurrymagazine.com

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Your Career v. Your Health

(Photo Borrowed from doctorbulldog.wordpress.com)
 Have you ever gotten sick over tech week? Had to battle a cold on opening night? Most of us have experienced the, “I’m too busy to sleep, or eat, or exercise because I’m in “launch the show” mode”. This will inevitably leave you exhausted or sick, which decreases your personal efficiency and means you have to spend even more time getting everything done than you would have had you remained healthy. Actors tend to be better at this because, well, their bodies are their instruments and maintaining it is part of the job. Those of us on the production and business side of things tend to neglect our instruments. In order to break the vicious cycle of overworked and over-scheduled, here are a few tips to stay opening day healthy.

1. Start taking a multi-vitamin as soon as rehearsals start and continue until the show closes. Better yet, just take a multi-vitamin all the time since you’re probably too busy to eat 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day.
2. Stock up on virus-fighting staples before shit hits the fan. Oranges are great because you don’t have to wrap or refrigerate them, just throw a couple in your bag and go! If you have a fridge at the theater, stock it with berries, pre-cut veggies and some probiotic yogurt.
3. While the rise of super-bacteria will probably make this null and void in a couple years, for now anti-bacterial hand sanitizer and a can of Lysol are pretty useful. Stock your office, the theater, even carry one around with you.
4. If you’re lucky enough to have an office, or a locker, or a corner to call your own at the theater, leave sneakers there. When you take that union mandated 15, power walk around the block a few times… make it staff thing, production meetings on the run! (kidding… sort of)
5. Make a priority list of your life for the next week. Cross of the bottom three items, replace with sleep. If you can’t cross anything off your list, and do you really need to go to your best friend’s wedding anyway, then cut commuting out of your day, pack a week’s worth of clothes and a sleeping bag and sleep at the theater.
6. In all seriousness, the best thing you can do is to make healthy lifestyle changes when you’re not busy, so that they become habits, then you’ll be better able to incorporate them into your life when you’re under fire.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Your Online Presence: Personal v. Professional

What’s your email address?  I bet it’s something like your name, or your initials and a few numbers, or your name and your business, etc.  What was your email address 10 years ago?  Mine was curlygurl516@aol.com.  Cute, right?  Professional, no.  The way we use the internet has evolved over the past 10 years.  Have you?

I struggle with the idea of the personal and professional in my online identity.  After all, I interact with my friends and family, as well as business and professional colleagues via the world wide web.  So how can I balance the various parts of myself, revealing the right things to the right people, and still maintaining who I am, on this vast network of never ending information?

I think the most important thing to do is learn your privacy settings.  If you don’t want the whole world to see it, you’d better set them on high security.  Photos on Facebook from Friday night are best kept to yourself and the people you were out with (I'm at a bar in the photo above, is it appropriate?).  Then again, there are things you DO want everyone to see, like that award you received, the article you published, or your fabulous resume (but maybe not your address and home phone).  I recommend keeping your Linked In strictly professional so you have a safe platform on which to promote your professional self.

 A word on twitter:  TWEETS SHOW UP IN GOOGLE SEARCH.  Therefore, even though your boss doesn’t follow you on twitter, she/he can find the nasty things you’ve been tweeting about your job on google….whoops.  I prefer twitter as a more professional source where you can really have a personality.  To be honest, if I follow you, and you’re going to whine about your day via tweet, I will un-follow you.  If you mix up your tweets with great industry information and interesting snippets of your personal life, I will look forward to what you have to say.  (You can follow me at @thecastparty, let me know you found me through the blog and I’ll send you some love!)

If you’re one of the millions of bloggers in the US, you’ve probably struggled with the personal/professional balance.  Let’s be honest, if you’re all business, you’re boring, and if you put in too many personal details, we can’t take you seriously, or your life is a book on the net.  I don’t want the world to know about my weird rash  (wait what?), maybe you do, but that’s a decision you have to make as a blogger.  Additionally, while my Grandma and BFF might want to see cute pictures of my cat, most of my business colleagues don’t care.  That’s why I keep it relevant here on the biz blog, and I keep a personal blog for Aunt Sally and my friends from grade school.

Your online presence is really about your audience.  Know who your audience is on each platform, know who has access to what, and reveal accordingly.  Don’t be afraid to adjust either!  If you find you’ve been too stiff, or too loose, mix it up.  So, here’s the part where I ask for your help.  Is The Cast Party too stiff, too loose, what do you want to read more of?  What do you want to read less of?  You’re the audience, let me know what you want!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Friends with Benefits?

<--Not that kind.  I'm talking about the friend turned business partner/investor/collaborator, etc.  When is it ok to work with your friends? 

Chances are, you've worked with friends before.  In our business, the people you work with often become your friends.  These friends, you can usually always work with because the relationship was established first as one of business, and later that of friendship.  However, the friend first, business second relationship can be a tenuous one, so it's important to pick your "bedfellows" carefully.

There's no clear way to determine who you work well with, but there are definitely some indicators to help you decide who to work with, who to approach with investments, and whose creative eye to consult.

1. So that friend from college you met in a chugging contest on the bar at McFaddens.... yea, probably not your best business partner, but you knew that.

2. Can you plan a trip with this person and NOT get frustrated?  Snag them fast, you work well together!

3. If you've slept with them they're out of the running.  Also, think twice about someone you've made out with while drunk.

4. Your friend who's desperate for a job/ desperately broke... not a good match.

5. A friend with a waaaaaay better job/ financial situation than you, also not a good match.

6. A friend you admire for their work ethic/creativity/drive, go for it.

7. If you've successfully lived with someone in the past (roomate status, not an ex), and are no longer living with this person, you can consider working with them. 

8. Do NOT try collaborating with someone you live with now, unless you are both saintly, you'll probably get sick of each other.

9. It's ok to ask your trust fund friends to invest in your show, IF they are interested in the material and you know you can deliver a quality product.  Squandering their money on an iffy project will screw you in the long run.  Trust fund kids tend to be connected ;)

10.  Finally, if you are going to work with a friend, be sure that you both clearly lay out your expectations, goals, and plans.   If things don't work out, at least you'll have paper proof of whose fault it is :) j/k

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Breaking out of the Business

 (photo borrowed from insighthealthcoaching.com)

As a young professional, you probably spend a lot of time trying to break into the business.  You know, networking, schmoozing, working for free, learning the tricks of the trade, stalking experts in your field...ok maybe not stalking.  While it's extremely important to learn the ins and outs of the theater industry, it's also crucial that you break out of the box every now and again. 

Chat up your friend who's an up and coming investment banker (maybe someday you can hit her up to invest in your show).  Ask her about her business.  Find out what she looks for in a business she recommends to her clients.  Find someone who does pharmacuetical sales at happy hour.  Ask him about his process, how he cultivates his client base.  How many hours a week does he spend learning about his products?  Are you seeing how all this knowledge can help you improve your production? Build your audience? Make your business more profitable?  (Don't forget to share the tricks of your trade!  As a theater professional you hold a lot of insight that other fields can benefit from as well.)

Hit up Barnes and Noble (or if you're cheap like me, the public library) and pick up some books on business, marketing, leadership, education policy, global development, whatever strikes your fancy, and take notes!  Think of ways you can apply all of that magical information to run a more efficient theater, to better choose a show to produce, or to build a stronger audience base.

The current economic situation has forced industries to look outside of their tried and true methods for solutions.  Industry leaders are looking for innovators, and by learning about somebody else's business, you automatically bring an alternative perspective.  Combine all those vantage points with your brilliant mind and you get INNOVATION! So go be a leader in your field, learn something different!  

Friday, March 26, 2010

What are you wearing right now?

No one is going to take you seriously if you can't dress professionally.  Has anyone ever gone to a cross-industry networking event and noticed that everyone who works in the arts is looking well, a little shabby compared to the rest of the business world?  Yeah, me too.

When you're at the theater or in the studio, working on your production, or in your space, dress however you feel comfortable and is appropriate for your work environment.  I understand that often as arts professionals we end up doing multiple jobs, some of which may or may not come with the risk of ruining an outfit.  It's important to wear something functional, but please, PLEASE, I beg of you: when you go out into the greater world to seek funding, or network, or market, or whatever, you are representing not only yourself, but your organization, and all other arts professionals. 

Many people in corporate America have never met an arts professional.  They don't get it, they're not sure what that means.  Are you an artist?  Are you a businessperson?  The fact of the matter is that you are both, and your presentation should reflect that.  If you're not dressed professionally, a traditional businessperson can't take you seriously, because they are trained that appearance reflects professionalism (or lack there of) in their offices on Wall Street & Park Avenue.

I know you're an accomplished professional and successful businessperson, so how about we show that to the rest of the world!

(both photos borrowed from db-oracle.com)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Know When to Say No

Image borrowed from happybrainstorm.com                      
So for New Years, I resolved to not over-extend myself and to write twice a week to prove it to everyone. Well, I haven't been very good about this (as evidenced by the fact that I'm writing on a Thursday), but don't give up on me yet!

I've found that I have been saying NO a great deal more, but I've also had a great deal more opportunities come my way.  I think that triaging opportunities is the most difficult thing you are presented with in this business of theatre.  Whether you're a producer, actor, designer, musician, manager, or one of the many other players in the theatre, you have to decide which projects to work on, how much (or how little) you're willing to work for, and even how to best spend your time on a day to day basis.

As artists we often work for ourselves, no boss, no teacher, no time clock.  It's just you and your priorities.  So how do you choose what's most important?  Everyone's answer is different, but I can tell you with complete certainty, that the most successful people in our business know when to say no, and when to say yes!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Own Your Spotlight!

The forecast is gloomy for the weekend.  Brighten it up with a little pampering and shop for a good cause at my very first fundraiser!

The event consists of shopping, free make-up consultations, networking, and just some plain old fun times on a rainy day.  The best part is that when you buy something, we'll be donating part of the proceeds to Project Peru, a part of Manos Solidarias, an org that works to improve the quality of life for children and families living in poverty.  What could be better than getting stuff and making a difference!

The fun starts at 2:30, don't be late! RSVP HERE!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


(image by J. Howard Miller borrowed from archives.gov)
I ran track once when I was 12.  I hated it.  I refused to run any race over 200 meters, and I was constantly walking at practices.  Finally I got tendonitis, so they stopped trying to make me care.

Lately I've gotten it into my head that I'm a runner.  I've been running give or take 15 miles a week on and off for a few years out of sheer necessity (no money = no gym = no pool, no elliptical, no dance classes), but something finally clicked for me and now I'm training for a half marathon.  Um, WHAT?

That's right folks, I'm going to run 13.1 miles... in a row... on purpose... and I'm excited about it!  I've been able to turn something I'm bad at into something I love, and now I'm getting pretty good at it.  How?  Affirmations..... and lots of practice.

For better or for worse, the human brain is really powerful.  It has the power to convince you that you CAN or CANNOT do something.  Anxious about a test?  Tell yourself you're not going to do well and you'll probably live up to your expectations.  Tell yourself you're prepared and intelligent, and I bet you'll ace it.  Don't like approaching investors?  I bet you won't pick up that phone and set those appointments half as often as someone who enjoys pitching their show.

Not all of us are born good at everything (Shocking!).  Some of us have to work at different aspects of our jobs and lives.  While nothing replaces good old fashioned practice, affirmations speed up the process and make it a heck of a lot more pleasant.  So next time you approach that task you're not good at, tell yourself,
"I can do this.  I am (smart/strong/able/accomplished/etc) and I will make it happen."

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Bringing Broadway to Students

Full disclosure:
This article is about the Early Stages Program, a nonprofit that brings NYC public school students to Broadway and Off-Broadway performances.  I happen to work here :) so I am biased.  I think it's a great organization that's doing wonderful things for NYC students AND for the future of Broadway.  Actor Matt Cavenaugh thinks so too.  You can read his article on Early Stages in Beverly Hills Lifestyle Magazine (spring 2010).

Check it out!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Goals, Accountability & Incentives: Why they matter

When I was a kid, my parents used to take us out to dinner when we brought home good report cards.  Family dinner at Red Lobster or Outback Steakhouse was all the incentive my brother and I needed to try our very best everyday at school.  Additionally, if we didn't do well, we had to bring our report cards home to be signed by mom and dad, and there would inevitably be consequences (no tv for a week!!!).  We were held accountable for our poor performance.  As I got older, my parents became less and less involved in motivating me to get A's.  I worked hard because I wanted to get into a good college.  I was working towards a personal goal.
Goal, Accountability, Incentive= Olympic Gold (photo nj.com)
The need for goals, accountability, and incentives doesn't disappear when we finish school.  Turns out these elements will contribute to success in everything you do.  Trying to lose some weight?  I bet you set a goal for yourself.  Are you checking in with someone who's holding you accountable?  Chances are if you're not, you're struggling to keep yourself on track.  Have you set up incentives for yourself? ie. If I run 10 miles this week I get to buy myself a new pair of shoes.  You bet thinking about those red stilettos got me off the couch more than once.

The same applies to business, especially in the business of arts, since so many artists and arts administrators work independently.  Trying to get a show off the ground?  There's your goal.  Set smaller ones on a daily or weekly basis to keep yourself from being overwhelmed.  (I will call five potential investors today.)  Get someone to hold you accountable.  I love this concept: two producers from MTWorks have challenged each other to a Producer Off.  As each one raises more funds the other takes off an item of clothing.  You can bet they're checking in with each other to gauge progress (accountability), and the threat of ending up naked on the internet has GOT to be incentive!  Additionally, in business there's the added incentive that, if you're successful, you will likely get paid (and who doesn't like to get paid?).

So there's your fomula for success: Goal, Accountability, Incentive; rinse and repeat.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Most Basic Tenet of ANY Business

Do it.  Whatever it is, stop talking about why not, and do it.

A number of years ago I (against my will) read Robert Kiyosaki's Rich Dad, Poor Dad (thanks Dad).  It has some great information about what distinguishes an employee from a business owner (aka one who works for money and one who makes money work for them).  Ok, so it's a litttttle more involved than that, but if you want the inside scoop, you'll have to read the book.  I decided I wanted money to work for me.  I was willing to take a risk and sacrifice comfort for financial freedom, but I didn't really get how to make this happen.  So a few years and a couple of jobs (read: i'm still working for money) later I finally get it.

You have to do it.  You have to get out there and network your booty off.  You have to make appointments and ask people to invest.  You have to do things that make you uncomfortable until they become comfortable.  What distinguishes those who make it and those who don't is the ability and willingness to go there, to do that. 

If you're constantly saying to yourself, well I can't do that because, or I don't have this, or I'm not connected enough to... whatever it is, if you're giving yourself reasons to NOT do something, you're not going to do it. 
 So start finding ways around your why nots.  Look for ways to say yes, and if you can't think of one, reevaluate what you can change that will enable you to say yes.  Sure there are things that happen in life that you can't control, but there are a great many things we can control.

Make choices, make changes, and do it.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday's Featured Event: Hold for the Laughs

So this event isn't exactly taking place this weeeekend, but next Wednesday.  However,since it's a great cause (Doctors without Borders) and takes place before next Friday when I post wonderful things to do, I thought I'd include it.  From Michael Roderick's Blog, One Producer in the City:

Hold for the Laughs is 8 days away! All proceeds go to Doctors without Borders! Hope to see you there!
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
9:30pm - 11:30pm
The Tank @ 45th Street Theater
354 West 45th Street
New York, NY


Hold For The Laughs is back this month with another great show. We are donating all proceeds from the show to Doctor's Without Borders. This will be big show and you will have the chance to meet many people in the comedy and theater communities. All for a great cause!

At 9:30pm we will be starting things off with our networking event and this month we will have several theater companies in attendance so it will also be a great opportunity for everyone to network and catch up. Stay for the tremendous lineup we have for the comedy show at 10pm.

Christian Polanco Hosts:

Brian Jian (NBC Stand-Up For Diversity)

Mara Herron (Sirius XM, Boston Comedy Festival)

Joe Derosa (Comedy Central Presents)

Suggested donation is $10, but please give whatever you can. We appreciate whatever you are able to donate to support. It all goes to Doctors Without Borders.

Reserving your seat by emailing holdforthelaughs@gmail.com helps us out a lot. Hope to see you Wednesday!

There is no drink minimum, but wine/beer is available.

Thanks so much for supporting indie theatre and live comedy!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday's Featured Event: V-Day New York (MMRP) 2010

 Dear readers,
From now on, every Friday I'll feature an event going on that weekend that's a great opportunity or serves a great cause.   This Weekend:

As part of the V-Day Worldwide Campaign
_gaia and Looking Glass Theatre present their benefit reading of
Writings To Stop Violence Against Women and Girls

V-Day New York City 2010 is proud to join the global effort to raise money and awareness for local organizations that work to stop violence against women and girls. A MEMORY, A MONOLOGUE, A RANT AND A PRAYER: Writings To Stop Violence Against Women and Girls, is a groundbreaking collection of monologues by world-renowned authors and playwrights, edited by Eve Ensler and Mollie Doyle. These writings are inspired, funny, angry, heartfelt, tragic, and beautiful. But above all, together they create a true and profound portrait of how violence against women affects every one of us. A diverse cast will perform the monologues, directed by veteran director Rose Ginsberg.

Featuring: Alena Acker, Jenn Boehm, Ann Breitbach, Bethany Bryan, Alessandra Cardoso, Elena Chang, Meaghan Connaire, Chelsey Curry, Missy Hernandez, Kaira Klueber, JessAnn Smith and Tara Thierry.

All performances will take place at Looking Glass Theatre on February 12 at 8 p.m. and February 13 at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets for all performances are $18 online and $20 at the door. Tickets can be purchased at https://www.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/710885.

Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit Women In Need, Inc. (WIN) of New York City, NY, the York Street Project of Jersey City, NJ and 10% of the proceeds will go to this year’s V-Day international spotlight theme, THE WOMEN OF THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO.

_gaia and Looking Glass Theatre will also be collecting toiletries, gently-used business attire, diapers, cloth bibs, wipes (refills for rectangular boxes) and non-perishable snack items for both beneficiaries. Check www.lookingglasstheatrenyc.com for a complete list of items being collected.

For up-to-date performance information and other V-Day fundraisers visit www.gaiastudio.org, www.lookingglasstheatrenyc.com or www.vday.org. For more information on our beneficiaries visit www.women-in-need.org and www.yorkstreetproject.org.

Join us and change the story of women!

GLOBAL SPONSORS: Dramatists Play Servicem Amanda Keidan Jewelry, LUNA, Random House, Shawn & Shane, Vosges Haut-Chocolat

LOCAL SPONSORS: _gaia, Looking Glass Theatre, Art Kitchen, Design Factory, Garden State Rollergirls, Hell’s Kitchen Lounge, Lady M Confections and Melita Wines.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Taking Chances: My Take on Risk Assessment

I used to work in a bar/restaurant for extra income. I made cash in hand that complemented my salary, and they fed me 3 times a week. I could afford to buy my lunch and was still saving money. It was pretty good.
Today I work one job. I volunteer, I'm active in a few professional organizations, I'm taking a class, I run almost everyday, I'm starting a business, I write this blog...and I am flat broke.
I have to be honest, living month to month is kind of a scary thing, especially with imminent expenses looming (graduate school anyone?). However, leaving the restaurant was the best thing I could ever do for my career. I freed up 20+ prime hours of my day to network, learn new skills, and seek out opportunities. Giving up my extra income was a risk I couldn't afford NOT to take.
I'm on the verge of taking a few more chances (in spite of the costs of a dentist appointment I know I need to make). But before I deplete my savings account I had to ask myself: Can I afford to NOT take this chance?

Friday, February 5, 2010

You're Invited

TONIGHT! Friday, February 5, 2010, 6-9pm
Co-hosted by Dance/NYC's Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) and Emerging Leaders of New York Arts (ELNYA) for young arts administrators and Dance/NYC's Mid-Year Symposium participants

@ The Rubin Museum of Art's K2 Lounge
150 West 17th St. at 6th Avenue

No RSVP necessary.  Symposium registration is also NOT required to partake in drinks at the Rubin. 
Cash bar.  2-for-1 drinks from 6-7pm
Free admission to Happy Hour all night and free admission to all galleries too after 7pm.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Survival of the Fittest

If you have the time, I urge you to read this blog post from Dewey 21c, Richard Kessler's Blog about the proliferation of nonprofits in the past decade and a half.  There's something to be said for wanting to change the world, but can't we always accomplish more when we work together?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Let's Sell Out, Jersey Shore Style

Photo courtesy of the lovely KB center w/ "JWoww" and "PaulyD"

 I don't know if anyone is quite the sucker for pop culture that I am, but click on the title if you haven't heard about MTV's "The Jersey Shore".  I can't speak to the value of the show, or the quality of its participants, but this show is getting a LOT of publicity.  I have friends in DC who were scrambling to get tickets to a "Jersey Shore" party, every news station picked up on a story from the show in the past few weeks, and I can't pass a newsstand without seeing the famed "guidos" and "guidettes".

What's remarkable about the Jersey Shore is that its based upon the same principles as "The Hills", another MTV reality show that seems to be falling out of favor, yet it's rocking the pop culture buzz.  Why? Well part of it has to do with the economy.  Who wants to watch rich Hollywood kids blow money on parties and expensive clothes when they can't afford their morning cup of joe?  On the show, the Jersey Shore kids have to work at a t-shirt shop on the Boardwalk for the luxury of being filmed.  They go to clubs where the cover is probably in the single digits, and there doesn't have to be a drink minimum because everyone's there to get plastered, not show off their Louboutins.  Basically, we all appreciate a little low brow fun because we can relate to it.

Additionally, these kids are selling the begeeezes out of themselves.  There's a little bit of Seth Godin's "The Purple Cow" in this.  The product (guidos and guidettes) is different from the rest of the Hollywood watered down personalities we've gotten from reality casting directors in recent years.  This makes the product remarkable.  Next, is the drama that got the show into the news to begin with, and finally, the fact that they've taken advantage of the hype by appearing in every tabloid possible, and at parties across the country.

Smart, right? So maybe we could try this model out in the upstanding world of theater.  What if we let our artistic integrity take a back burner for a minute, bring something completely brass and scandalous to the fore, and tried to create some tabloid worthy drama?  Is it too Speidi?  Is it worth it if it works? Is it crazy?

Regardless, I'll keep following the tabloids, and YOU keep thinking of new ways to make theatre more profitable!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Arts Education vs. Great Works

Yes, I am late. Anyhow, I came across this very interesting post on Richard Kessler's blog, Dewey21c, digesting a post by David Byrne.  Mr. Byrne suggests we cut government funding for the work of "old dead guys" in lieu of arts education. (Read the comments, totally valuable and/or entertaining).  Quite frankly, I don't even think there is a debate here because as two sides of the same coin, you can't really pit one against the other.  If you want to teach a young soul arts so they can grow up to create new art, you're going to have to expose them to old art so they have a framework.  You just don't get Shakespeare until you see it performed, because it's meant to be performed, not read from a book at a desk!
This got me thinking about all the other "old dead guys" I've enjoyed in my lifetime:  Vivaldi, Mozart, Wagner (oh wait, no I did NOT enjoy Wagner).  Of course the Musical Theatre greats: Gilbert and Sullivan (technically operetta but close), Rogers, Hammerstein, Kern, Hart, Cole Porter.  It was in this moment when I realized how many great Musical Theater greats aren't in fact "old dead guys" but very alive, (and potentially stalk-able) old guys.  (This is the part where I talk myself out of stalking Steven Schwartz)
How cool is it, that of all the performing arts, Broadway, is the one place where living artists are selling more tickets than dead ones!  Good for you theater artists, good for you. (Stay alive, in this business your art will not sell itself, you have to sell yourself :) fun, right?)

Friday, January 8, 2010

What's the craziest thing you've ever done.....for a cause?

Whether you wanted to or not, chances are you've seen a clip of some fame seeking lunatic eating raw bull's balls or climbing through a pit of cockroaches on reality television.  (Aren't you glad I evoked that visual for ya?)  There seems to be no end to what people will do for money, but what about money for charity?  It seems reality shows have gotten on the do-good bandwagon, donating proceeds from this challenge or that to a charity of the winner's choice.  Kudos to that, if we can inspire people to get up and do.......something......to help others, I think that's awesome.You know what else is awesome (not to mention completely insane), Burroughs Annual Freezin' for a Reason.
Apparently, every year the crazies gather to run into the Long Island Sound during the chilly month of February to raise money for the Burroughs Community Center in Bridgeport CT.  Really people?  Actually, I would totally pay to see this, so I did, and you can too.  Make a donation to Burroughs here.  
So what's the craziest thing you've ever done for a good cause?  Run a marathon (yes, I consider marathon running a completely insane undertaking)?  Eat bugs?  Jump into the Hudson River (gross, right)?  Keep up the good work crazies, you're making a world of difference!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Year, New Plans

If you work in New York theater, you're probably qualified to work in the circus.  Why?  Because you must have mastered the art of juggling.  Your schedule involves multiple colored balls up in the air, rising and falling at a rate that would make a normal human being dizzy.  Part of this is out of necessity.  First, you need to juggle multiple jobs to pay your rent, but later, as you become more successful, that success is based upon the fact that you can handle well, everything at once.  Sometimes though, as a juggler, it's easy to over-commit yourself.  We've all been stretched a litttttle to thin from time to time and were unable to give our full focus to one thing or another.
So, in the interest of my health, sanity, and the value of all my future projects, I am resolving to NOT over extend myself this year.  Part of this means that I should have time to write two blog posts a week.  Think I can do it?  Check back every Tuesday and Friday to see if I'm keeping up with my resolution to keep my schedule open!