Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I just subscribed to Kevin Davenport's blog "Producer's Perspective." Davenport is an Off-Broadway producer. I suppose, given my theatre tribe orientation, that this is an odd choice. But as Richard II says, "And yet, not so." Davenport has an entrepreneurial frame of mind that I find admirable and applicable to the tribe model.

For instance, his most recent post is "Hit the Street to Find Out How to Sell." Kevin tells the story of Duane, a rapper in NYC who is selling his CD's by performing on the streets of Times Square. While Duane is focused on how commercial producers have no choice about who is hired to sell their tickets at the Broadway theatre or at the ticket ordering companies like Telecharge (did you know the Shubert Organization owned Telecharge? What a mess this whole business is!), my focus is on Duane. As Kevin notes, Duane "believes in his product," and "there is nothing more powerful than the live pitch."

I hate to say it, but we're back at community again. But this time, I mean face time. An artist and a someone they don't even know. Showing a little bit of the product, and talking about it from a standpoint of commitment to it. In Mike Daisey's How Theatre Failed America, he talks about coming to a point in his career when he decided that he wouldn't do any more projects that he wasn't 100% committed to -- which meant that he didn't work for a long time. And sadly, this lack of 100% commitment is the situation all too often.

Because many theatre artists have been taught to snap up any job that is offered regardless of what it is, often they end up doing things that they are luke-warm about, or even embarrassed about. And so when they are out an encounter their friends, much less total strangers, they don't have the fervor to really get people excited enough to buy a ticket. This should never be the case with a theatre tribe.

Because of the consensus model that a theatre tribe utilizes, tribe members have no excuse not to believe in their product, since they will have agreed to let it be produced. When using the consensus model of decision making, every member has the right to use a "blocking concern" to say no to anything they feel seriously violates the values of the organization, regardless of how the other members feel. Consequently, members will be very sparing in using what is essentially the "nuclear option" for consensus. However, if they don't use the clocking concern, then they are consenting to support the decision. And so they should, in good conscience, be able to stand face to face with a potential audience member or a friend and really sell the show.

And they need to put themselves in situations where they have an opportunity to do that. But that's another topic.

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