Naming Names

You have you actors, you have your script, the costumes and set are ready, and the props are all sorted. All systems go then for your first performance? Forgotten anything?

It may seem a simple thing but what about a cast list? How will people know what your show is about and, more importantly, who you are?

So what’s prompted this seemingly innocuous question?

It may seem an elemental requirement of putting on a show but judging from experience at the recent Pulse Fringe Festival at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich, one that many emerging companies overlook.

Out of 36 shows seen (out of the 48 on offer during the festival) only four companies produced any form of cast list for audiences. It should be said the venues press officer did a sterling job of chasing companies and providing casting details to the press but what about the wider audience?

Surely one key part of showing your work at a festival promoting new work is that off chance you might be discovered and your work could be taken on by another venue. If potential agents, directors, programmers or venues are in the audience, what chance do you have if they have no idea who is whom?

We’re not talking big glossy publications here; especially considering most of these types of production are in the very embryonic stages of development and play for normally one performance; however is a one page cast and creative list beyond expectations?

Some companies rely on the fact they have an intranet page, but given the number of shows competing for attention; critics and promoters don’t have the time to go searching for the information across the net. And it is a competitive market. Regardless of the artistic merit of the show, if you are seeing three or four individual shows on any given day you are unlikely to go trawling around the internet hunting for details of the production.

While it is, of course, easy to be caught up with the excitement of the creative process, take a step back and put on your business/salesman head and think ‘what can I do to help those who may be interested in taking my project further?’.

This article was originally written for Arts Professional Magazine

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