Director in Training, part one: How to fund and publicise your play
Francine Morgan is one of nine young theatre-makers participating in this year’s StoneCrabs Young Directors Training Programme. In a series of articles, she’ll be talking about the trials and tribulations of putting a play on from scratch. This week, funding and publicity!
Fellow creatives, theatre-makers: putting on one play isn’t easy, so a festival of nine plays is no walk in the park. As one of the trainees of the StoneCrabs Young Directors Training Programme who will direct a play for a three-night festival in March as part of the training, I feel very fortunate to have been chosen and equally daunted by what’s to come.
Up until Christmas, we were meeting twice a week to talk all things producing and to receive the artistic training, becoming familiar with artists such as Boal and Bogart. As things step up a gear with meetings and training restarting and the Stomping Ground festival in sight, I thought it would be great to share this second half of the journey.
As one of the nine directors on the programme I’d like to share what we’re all doing to get things going. I want this series to be a time capsule for when it all becomes a distant memory, and to help future directors starting out with some hints, tips, and good old-fashioned hindsight.
Firstly, Kickstarter. We have just successfully completed a kickstarter campaign as part of our fundraising—which is lucky for us, because if we hadn’t met the target we’d have gotten nothing!
Family and friends are your main, if not only, donation source. However lovely it would be for a local philanthropist to donate to your project, it is highly unlikely, so plough your efforts into those you know. That being said, random acts of kindness do exist. Sometimes it is just down to luck and timing, but a social media presence is crucial to get the idea of donating etched into people’s brains. We’ve managed to secure funds from some trusts, too, so if searching, look for organisations that connect with a theme or purpose of your play, find those connections.
Next, Arts Council. Unfortunately, before Christmas we received an unwelcome reply from them: unsuccessful! However strong your application, if you are applying from London you will have a mountain of competition against you. Hence our unsuccessful bid with only minor points in terms of feedback i.e. strengthening our public engagement argument. We have applied again, with the advice in mind that applying via other areas of England will increase your chances of success.
Lastly, Social Media. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, if you use them, REALLY use them. Only create these accounts if you know you will take advantage. You have to allow time to plan for content and posts and commit to publishing these in line with how active your project is. An unmanned site or page is the first way to lose followers. Also, use a mixture of content to appeal to your different audiences, from silly to serious, pictures to blogs. You have to come at it from all angles.
When selecting our plays we had some restrictions—that they were less than 45 minutes and had a maximum of three cast members. This took some searching to find something I was comfortable with. As a result, our festival is a smorgasbord of plays from playwrights Dario Fo, Daniel Keene, David Mamet, Alistair McDowall, Paulo Santoro, James Saunders, Atiha Sen Gupta, Martin Sherman, and Tempest. We hope this means something for everyone.
Do check us out! Our festival, Stomping Ground, runs at The Albany in Deptford March 15-17. Also, there’ll be more to come here on how we do with casting, rehearsals, and the festival itself, so stay tuned!