Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Producer's Perspective

Max Bialystock: "The two cardinal rules of producing. One: Never put your own money in the show."
Leo Bloom
: "And two?"
Max Bialystock
: "Never put your own money in the show!"
- The Producers

Before I get started, I want to give mad props to my fellow performers who marched this weekend and stood up for rights of ALL women.  I wasn't able to attend the one in Dallas, but I'm fighting in my own ways, one of them being participating in the Legislate This! fundraiser.  As a reminder, it's this Friday and you can get tickets here.  Check out this teaser video of all the performers you'll see.

Now onto our regularly scheduled programming. As I've said before, I never wanted to be a producer.  I knew how much of it was like herding cats, and I've always been more of a loner than a leader.  The idea of curating a show to fit a theme of my choice did appeal to me, but I also knew my tastes differed from what was easily marketable.

Everything changed when I joined the Tuesday Tease Team.  I saw an opportunity to elevate the visibility of both queer and POC performers, especially those with out-of-the-box visions like my own.  It would also let me be more active in the queerlesque community .

Being roommates with college theatre producers helped prepare me of the job at hand.  Lillith Grey and Vivienne Vermuth were great mentors and co-producers to help me get started, and Friskey Business and Tasseled Squirrel offered invaluable support as stage managers.  It's so important to have a crew that you can rely on.

Tuesday Tease: Dawn of the Nerd cast and crew
Photo by Brandy Lynne Photography
Last September was the first show I produced solo, and it was a big one for me.  We had two out-of-town guests, Amber Ray and Rosa Lee Bloom, who were absolutely spectacular.  The theme of classic burlesque and drag allowed me to go back to my roots of learning classic while simultaneously teaching me more about drag.  I had some very new performers in the cast, who did extremely well.  I hoped they took something away from sharing space with veteran performers.

Although my burlesque aspirations are still centered on opportunities to tell a story with my body, I've developed a love of producing.  It's nice to hang back and appreciate the work (because when you're performing, you're focused on delivering for the audience).  We do have to keep both the audience and the cast in mind when developing so I can't have all of my wacky ideas come into fruition, but I've learned how to make it work—like turning an idea for a cultural showcase to a night dedicated to songs in languages other than English.

Tuesday Tease: Tease Around the World cast and crew
Photo by KWN Design
There's been some difficult moments, and I know I could be more assertive and proactive.  Those are opportunities for education and growth though.  Being a producer carries a lot of responsibilities beyond just getting an audience and making your show goes off without a hitch.  You have power away from the stage, and when you are part of a group like the Tuesday Tease Team, you have to remember that you are representing the values of an organization.  It's easier said than done.  Nevertheless, I've come away from all of this a better person in burlesque/drag, in my professional life, and in general.

I've also learned how to stage manage.  In our case, it's not too different from stage kittening; we just are in charge of organizing the set-up and herding the cats.  You can get me in that role at tonight's Tease show.

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