Midwestern RobotWriting

10 things I’ve learned about working in storefront theatre in Chicago, in no particular order

It’s all about who’s in the room.
  1. Sometimes the storefront is a church gymnasium. Or a church basement. Or the upstairs of an old funeral home. So check the climate control situation before agreeing to the production. Is there heat in winter? AC in summer? If not, have a good long think about immersive theatre and how it should or should not relate to your play.
  2. Pay attention to every actor’s every question, even if they’re not directed at you. Even if they’re only mumbled. It’s not your job, but track them with the director and stage manager and whoever else, to make sure everything gets answered.
  3. It is your job.
  4. It is your job, but it might not be your place. You are the first emissary from the magic place where your play came from, but only the first. The play only arrives fully in this world after many people give it their talents, time, good will, and hard work.
  5. The most important thing is the people. When you’re lucky with cast and crew, you’re beyond blessed.
  6. Whenever possible, think long term.
  7. Don’t let long-term thinking blind you to what’s happening in the room right now.  
  8. Assume everyone is at least as sensitive as you are. Choose your words and your timing carefully.
  9. Bring treats.
  10. Write any program notes a few weeks in advance, so you have time to change them if something bizarre happens right at the end.

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