Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Introducing the Grinder Gazette

There's a new document in the sidebar today. It's called "The Grinder Gazette." What is this, you may ask? Well, the Grinder Gazette is one of the most powerful tools at our disposal to promote the summer season. I encourage you to download it, read it, print it off and e-mail it to all of your friends.

The Grinder Gazette contains all the information you'll need to know about our summer season: Shows, times, dates, etc, but it also contains a plethora of contact information for local B&B's, restaurants, festivals, events and other attractions. Our hope is that it may be used to help tourists who are planning to visit Centre Wellington this summer plan their trips, so if you know of anyone who's coming from out of town then this would be an excellent resource for them. With any luck (and money!) we'll get a few of these printed up and distributed at strategic points around Centre Wellington, but our best way to get the word out is through you, as always.

And of course, I hope everyone remembers that this publication is brought to you courtesy of Grinder Productions, the hosts for the Ennotville and Belwood Summer Theatres!

Check it out, and see for yourself.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Joys of Casting

I thought today I'd tell you a bit about casting a show. This is perhaps the most important, most misunderstood and most frustrating part of any show (and also among the most enjoyable!). Getting the right people for the right roles is part art, part science, part faith, part extreme sport. Since we're trying to fill seven summer shows with exactly the right people I thought I might offer up few tidbits about the things I consider when I'm casting a show, in no particular order.

  1. Does a person have the necessary physical traits to play the character in question? Are they tall enough, short enough, do they possess any physical traits that are directly referred to in the script (I have one female role this summer that calls for a "well-developed chest" - try casting that one politely!).
  2. Can they handle the demands of the role? Leading roles are a lot of work, some smaller roles have unique challenges. For me, probably the biggest question is can they learn the lines? Sadly, in this day and age, the answer is most often no, and that's usually what will stop me from casting someone on the spot.
  3. Are the able to work well with fellow cast and crew? I don't have much patience for divas, or people who treat the techies as second-class citizens (in the unionized professional theatre, the techies actually are better paid than the actors).
  4. Can they make all the rehearsals? Again, a purely practical consideration, but if someone is going on vacation for two weeks during the rehearsal process then I have to question not only how prepared they will be come opening night, but the effect on the rest of the cast, who's had to listen to a stage manager reading in lines and "act to the air" for two weeks.
  5. Have I heard anything about this person? If I haven't worked with someone before I usually like to know what, if anything, they have done before, and with whom. Theatre is a small town, and people do talk to one another - a bad apple who's burned their bridges at one company has likely been talked about in all the others. I usually try to give people the benefit of the doubt, though, at least once, but I still like to go in with both eyes open.
  6. Have I anything on this person that would prevent me from casting them? I keep a master database of every actor I have ever worked with, and I assign each actor a status, based on how my experience was with them - "Open" means they're perfectly fine to work with, "Dormant" means they've either moved away or don't want to do theatre any more, "Caution" means I've had some minor problems in the past, but not enough to prevent me from taking a chance on them if I need to, "Blacklisted" means I won't cast under any circumstances. As you can imagine, you have to do something really bad in order to get blacklisted. I also have an "exclusions" category - people I wouldn't want to put with this person, either due to conflicting personal histories, or the potential for future conflicts if they were together.
Notice, in all the things I listed above, I said nothing about the "t" word, talent. I don't care if someone thinks they are a "good" actor. Really, there's no such thing, at least as far as talent is concerned. A "good" actor, if you want to be one, shows up on time, works hard and gets along with everyone else. It's as simple as that.

Well, now back to filling these seven shows.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Back on the bandwagon

Well, my ticker says I have 1 month, 2 weeks and 1 day to opening night. Time to get back to the regular postings.

First off though, my apologies for the extended e-silence over the past couple of weeks. Getting sick and then getting behind has left me playing catch-up with work that I would much rather not be playing catch-up with. I'm still not 100%, but one of the many the joys of being your own boss is that you can't call in sick, so I'm going to see if I can get myself back into a routine of productivity this week, gently working myself back up to full speed.

The other problem with not getting things done is that I didn't have much to write about, and since I don't like "filler" posts just for the sake of having something here, I decided to keep the blog quiet.

But now I'm back, and I do have a few things to let you all know about.

First of all, the website has been updated again. I have fixed a few bugs, and put the link to this blog on every page. More additions to follow, including a links page and the much-anticipated photos section, so I'll let you know when those are ready as well.

Farmer's Daughters starts rehearsal on Tuesday! I'll be talking more about the process of rehearsing this show quite a bit as we go along.

Casting for all the shows in the season is coming along as well. We haven't gotten it all cast yet, but I'm confident that we will in another couple of weeks or so. Compared to last year though, we're already in much, much better shape on that front.

Finally, we're really going to start pushing the season tickets now. By the end of this week it will be May (though you wouldn't know it by looking outside!) and our goal of 100 subscribers remains a long ways off yet. However, prospects are good, and I'm confident that with hard work and dedication (and perhaps a good word or two from all of you!) we'll reach our goal.

That's all for today. It's good to be back. Take care everyone.

Grinder

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Theatre Ideas: Defining Local

Came across this on an American Theatre blog, but it makes a good point, and I think it's particularly relevant to our situation here in Centre Wellington. Just what constitutes a "local" production? If the actors are from Guelph or K-W or Elmira or wherever is it still an expression of "local?"

Does it even matter where the people come from, and is it the play itself that makes the determination?

The posting also talks about the concept of "tribal" theatre - a bit of a catch-all for collective creation, acting ensembles and theatre focused around a particular theme or manifesto. While intrigued by tribalism, I think it's perhaps a bit limiting and exclusionary, and can lead to elitism. Taken to extremes outside of theatre, tribalism has led to most of the world's bloodiest ongoing conflicts.

Nonetheless, this is interesting. Check it out.

Grinder

Theatre Ideas: Defining Local

Monday, April 21, 2008

Updated Website!

Hello once again everyone.

Sorry for the e-silence last week, I was a little under the weather and run off my feet with non-Grinder work. But now I'm back with a big announcement...

The new website has arrived!

Click here.

Check out all the cool new layouts and features. Of particular interest to the "veterans" of Grinder may be the "All Time Cast and Crew List" that I have posted in the past shows section. Lots of memories there!

Please let me know about all the spelling mistakes and any other gaffs (like I said, I was sick last week). I'm still working on creating a links page, as well as a photo gallery, and putting Google Adsense onto the site, but it's being a pain (the joys of Frontpage!).

Grinder

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Birth of a Salesperson

I thought that today I'd write about the most difficult yet most important job in the theatre business - getting those "bums in seats."

I do have a confession to make though, too. There is a part of me that really hopes that what I write every day here, on this blog, as well as the newsletters, posters, brochures, flyers, faxes, e-mails, advertisements, pamphlets, programs, press releases, website and every other piece of promotional literature I put out there is so wonderful, so moving, so perfect, that it will inspire you to go out there and start selling tickets to the shows at Grinder Productions. And who knows? Maybe it is, and maybe some of you will, but for the vast majority out there (myself included) selling anything is seen as dirty, icky, and undesireable, except in the face of massive personal commissions. That's been how I've seen things for a long time, and it has made the (minimally successful) promotional activities that I have mentioned above something that I have had to work long and hard at to bring myself to do.

This is an attitude that I must change within myself, at least when it comes to selling Grinder Productions, especially if we're ever going to become a thriving company on stable financial footing. All those promotional activities I mentioned above are all well and good, but none of them really work, if you want the truth about it (and most people don't). Selling tickets, selling anything, really, isn't about pretty pieces of paper. It's about helping others to help themselves by giving them something that you both believe will enrich their lives.

If you believe in something, and I do believe in Grinder, then why not share it with the whole world? Why deny the rest of the world the fun and excitement that I have every time we put on a show?

Perhaps there are some of you out there who have felt that rush of good feelings you get after a rehearsal or a show, that tumultuous, intoxicating high that comes from hearing a crowd laugh, hugging your fellow actors backstage after a standing ovation, or any of the countless other personal joys that we all experience when we come to the theatre, be it as actors, audiences, or the people who make it all happen. I know I do. It's an amazing experience, and that's what I would like to share with all of you. You've seen the pretty pieces of paper, now let me and the people of Grinder Productions show you what it's really all about.

And on a related note, the newsletter is now out for April - Watch your inbox!

Monday, April 7, 2008

I'd like to thank the members of the Academy...

Well, it's that time of year again.

It was about this time last year that I got a letter from the Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce, the driving force behind the Centre Wellington Community and Business Awards of Excellence, informing me that I was a nominee for the Youth Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

It seems that this year I've been nominated once again.

Those of you who are close to me know that I feel very uncomfortable being singled out for personal acheivements like this, that I would much rather let others have the limelight, and that it's about being a part of a great team that brings true satisfaction and success. For the first year that I ran Grinder Productions I didn't even put my name on the posters, as I saw no real need to. I still don't, but apparently it's prudent marketing, so I allow it, but still, it's all a little weird for me.

I didn't think I still qualified as a youth anything, but apparently if you're under 30 and running your own business that is somehow an accomplishment in and of itself these days. Personally, I think they should call this the Youth Business of the Year Award, which would make it more about the company than about the person. Grinder has only been a real success when others have been there to share in the experience, and if there's any recognition to be handed out I would have been more comfortable if it had been extended to include all the people who make the company successful to any degree.

Still, as they say, it's an honour just to be nominated. I didn't win last year. I don't think I will win this year either, there are too many other people in this town in my age bracket who are just as deserving. But if I do, it will be because of the help, support and patronage of all of you.

Grinder

Friday, April 4, 2008

Audition Announcement

Auditions Announcement: Grinder Productions seeks fresh talent for 2008 and beyond

Please pass this along to everyone you know!

Grinder Productions, Centre Wellington's largest, most dynamic live theatre company will be holding open auditions on Saturday, April 19th at the Grinder rehearsal hall.

"We're back," says Grinder's Creative and Executive Director, Eric Goudie. "It's been a long winter rebuilding the company, and we're ready to make the summer of 2008 our best season ever. We would love to have some fresh faces to add to our talent pool this summer."

The company will be casting for all seven shows coming up this summer at the Ennotville and Belwood Summer Theatres, as well as shows in the 2008 - 2009 Fall-Winter-Spring seasons at the Fergus Grand Theatre, Elora Centre for the Arts and other venues.

No experience is necessary to audition; in fact people who have never been onstage before are encouraged to come out and try their hand at the fun and excitement that live theatre can bring. The company is also interested in people who may have auditioned for Grinder or other theatre companies before but have never been cast - there is such a diversity of roles coming up over the next two years that there's an excellent chance of everyone being offered a role at some point. Veterans of past Grinder shows as well as other community theatres are also welcome to audition, though Grinder members who have been onstage before recieve consideration automatically for upcoming projects.

The auditions will be very informal, and will be in groups of approximately 10 people. They will take no more than 45 minutes, and consist of some theatre games, readings from scripts and other activities.

The morning audition times will be reserved for young people aged 12 - 17, as there are a small number or roles for young people available this summer. The afternoon times will be reserved for people 18 and over.

To book an audition time please e-mail Eric Goudie at grinder@grinderproductions.org or call 519-780-7593.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Stay Tuned...

No post today, except to say this....

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT coming tomorrow.

You won't want to miss this, especially if you're an actor-type (nudge-nudge wink-wink).

Grinder

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Online Box Office Has Arrived!

You read that right! Finally, after years of waiting with bated breath, Grinder Productions now has a truly professional box office experience to offer our patrons. Thanks to the folks at www.ticketleap.com we are now able to process ticket orders on the internet, in addition to taking orders by phone. You can purchase tickets at Ticketleap, or visit the Grinder website at as soon as the re-vamped version is launched (watch for that in a very few days!). There's even a link to buy tickets off of the Grinder page on Facebook, and of course, there's a button included right here in the sidebar on the blog.

One of the things I like the best about this new box office is that we can now process payments by credit card, which is huge leap forward in ease and convenience for our patrons. And while offering the flexibility to order tickets by credit card online is wonderful in and of itself this system is so simple and easy to use that we'll be able to extend our credit card sales right up until curtain time.

Please check out our new online box office experience. You can click on the "Buy Tickets" button right here on the blog. The season passes are now on sale, and as I'm sure you're all aware, we've still got a long way to go to reach our goal of 100 subscribers by June 12th, the opening night of Farmer's Daughters. Get your tickets today!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Theatre that Dares to be Different

I thought today I'd post the "Grinder Manifesto." It's not so much a manifesto in the sense of Karl Marx's ode to communism, nor even the much more engaging Punk Marketing Manifesto that I've been reading lately. No, this is more of a working document, an open-book on the past, present and future of where the company is going. It's personal, polemical, long on platitudes and short on specifics, ie the kind of thing politicians love and English teachers love to rip apart. I post it here not in the hopes that it will be a tool of conversion, but perhaps a tool of discussion. I wrote this at the beginning of the journey that has been Grinder Productions. Is it still relevant to what we're doing today? Does it still make sense, or should it be changed or even abandoned completely and whole new one written?

Suggestions please...

Theatre That Dares to be Different

We are the ones who dare to be different. We dare to find other ways, better ways to reach audiences, exceed standards of technical expertise and craftsmanship, and deliver inspired performances. We dare to believe that theatre can be more meaningful, more enjoyable and ultimately of greater value to both patrons and participants if we go the extra mile, make the extra effort and hold ourselves to a higher standard than other theatre companies.

Daring to be different is not licence for brazen ill-conceived notions of financial extravagance or artistic snobbery. To be different implies deviance from the norm and the norm in today’s theatre often is artistic snobbery under the guise of financial extravagance, attempting to produce expensive “products” aimed at the “lowest common denominator” of patron tastes in order to maximize box office returns. Results are often predictable, sometimes successful, but seldom, if ever, fulfill the potential of the participants. This is the theatre that does not dare to be different at all. This is not our theatre.

We dare to strive for great theatre. We dare to offer our patrons something better, regardless of individual tastes for comedy, drama, music or any other genre. Whether it’s finding the right prop instead of a prop that will merely suffice, or finding out just what the “French Provincial” style actually is, or holding the door for an elderly patron on opening night, we dare to be different. We make one more attempt at making a sale, we dig a little deeper to find new meaning in a character, we recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of the rest of the team.

We are Grinder Productions. We are theatre that dares to be different.