Well, almost. Last night at the after-party for InGenius you could certainly be forgiven for thinking that the place which has "produced some of the finest plays and playwrights of the past decade" (according to NYTheatre.com, see below) is back to doing just that. The excitement, the talent, the urge to do good work and to help others do good work was all there.
But then again today, Sunday (today), the place was closed altogether. Nobody (except me) doing anything there.
The Writer's Forum (the producer of the InGenius show) did a great job of producing. And by "great job of producing" I don't mean making sure the plays are written and directed well with good actors because although they did do those things, those things don't matter. I mean "getting butts in seats." Because that's the number one (and oft-neglected) job of the producers.
The fact of the matter is we have a branding problem. The "Writer's Forum" is really the writing board of Theatresource. The "InGenius Festival" is really the in-house production company of Theatresource. But politics being what they are, all of these things get different names.
In any case, there's been a sincere effort to get the Writer's Forum back up and running. And it's been recognized that the Writer's Forum is the "heart" of Theatresource. Of course, getting a group to workshop and produce short plays even once a year takes tremendous effort. But it's not only best for Theatresource to be able to produce its own original works for artistic reasons, but for financial reasons as well.
After all, we're dark a lot these days. And being dark costs us money because our daily "nut" is about the same whether we're dark or have a show.
There are two things we can do in order to make sure the space is booked every day:
- Get outside producers to pay to put their show(s) up in our space.
- Produce our own shows.
The advantage of outside producers coming in is that we don't have to do that much work and we get cash coming in without us taking a risk on whether the show sells well or not. The advantage of producing our own work is that the potential upside of the ticket sales approaches our secret actual "nut" which includes all kinds of exciting debts that the 501c3 company owes to (say) the State.
I would suggest that Theatresource make itself responsible for producing three or four times a year for three weeks at a stretch. We could produce a couple full-lengths out of that. Making a commitment to produce that much work (from 9 to 12 weeks) is a lot of work. But if the producers focus on getting tickets sold, it would also be remunerative for the theater. We'd have fewer dark nights and fewer nights which would have to be filled by outside (rent-paying) producers.
The trick is that it's a lot of work. Maybe Theatresource needs a "Production Committee" which has the mandate and the authority to produce up to (say) 12 weeks a year. It's absurd to have to go to the Board of Directors to get permission every time the Writer's Forum wants to produce. The Production Committee has to have fiduciary responsibility to make sure their revenue is greater than their expenses. Other than that, they need a mandate to produce (and yes, there is a Production Committee of the Writer's Forum, I would suggest they be given such a mandate.)
There's a great review of the InGenius show up at NYTheatre.com.