Although it feels like we’re just about to celebrate the start of spring, summer will be here before you know it. And the warmer weather means one thing for us theatre folk: summer stock! While you still have ample time, get prepped for the summer stock season with a little help from On The Stage.
Benefits of summer stock
Summer stock strictly runs in the warmer months and typically plays outside in amphitheaters or similar venues. The ‘stock’ portion of the name comes from the tradition of staging shows by a resident company and re-using stock scenery, props, costumes, and actors all summer long. This type of theatre offers benefits for everyone involved, including:
- Gaining real-world experience – Whether you’re in the director’s chair or are a techie or actor, you can learn a lot from summer stock productions. Summer stock is a great opportunity for green theatre lovers to jump into the world of performance.
- Honing your craft – Summer stock, while speedy, is often a lower pressure environment for creatives than Broadway or off-Broadway productions. This will lend itself to what matters most – becoming better at what you love!
- Meeting new people – Actors, crew members, and directors often come from across the country to participate in summer stock shows. You’ll collaborate with creatives you’d likely never encounter in your day-to-day life.
- Keeping the creative juices flowing – With so much room for collaboration and creativity, you’ll likely harvest new ideas for your own fall and spring seasons to come.
- Reminding people about your theatre – For those in charge of summer stock, you can ensure your theatre and work are at the forefront of people’s minds during the ‘off-season.’
- Finding opportunities to fundraise – Summer stock showcases are a great time to push merchandise, or to arrange summer-centric fundraising opportunities surrounding your show. Remember – any time is a good time to fundraise!
How to prepare
As the leader of your summer stock production, you should come to the first rehearsal ready to produce a well-oiled machine. After all, time constraints, weather limitations, and stress galore can easily bog you down. Here are a few ways to arrive Day 1 as prepared as possible for a great production:
- Plan for any weather: If your work, like most summer stock, is outside in an amphitheater or outdoor venue, make sure you’ve got a back-up plan for times when bad weather inevitably strikes. The last thing you want to do come show time is call off a performance due to a lack of forethought. If you plan now for contingencies, that stress will be taken care of early. Tarps, renting out locations, or partnering up with other theatres are a few doable options.
- Prep your actors and crew: Summer stock is stressful – no doubt about it. The weather, fast pace, and pressure of it all may mean some people’s mental health and physical health will inevitably start to wane. But the solution to this is easy: communicate with your team before rehearsals begin! Ensure your crew comes hydrated, energized, ready for outdoor practice (sunscreen, people!), and prepped with the support systems they need to succeed. A strong mental and physical foundation within your team is key.
- Think before you pull the trigger on set and costume pieces: Like most, you’re likely working with a smaller budget that you’d like when it comes to summer stock – so be discerning when it comes to making big purchases. If you’re producing more than one show this summer, make sure the items you buy can be utilized in more than one way, for more than one show, before taking the plunge.
- Start marketing early. Marketable content is integral to creating buzz for your show. While a lot of the dynamic content – like rehearsal clips and behind-the-scenes reels – will come later, you can always send out press releases, secure interviews with local new sources, and amp up your social media presence prior to practice. Remember – engaging with your audience now will mean more people in seats this summer.
- Plan fundraisers in advance: Any time’s a good time to raise capital for your theatre, but if you’re looking for summer-specific fundraising, we’ve got a few ideas. Keeping in line with the ‘earlier is better’ motto, you’ll want to prepare and organize these events before your summer stock practices kick off. This way, both you and your team will be ready when it comes time to raise that dough.
- Start with something well-known: Kick off the summer with a well-known, wholesome tuner for audiences of all ages, or a drama that people can relate to. The key is to get as many people as possible to come to your first show … then proving to them it’s worth returning for your second showcase.
- Create a strict schedule up-front: Watch the clock. Timing is everything when it comes to summer stock. Create an air-tight schedule for rehearsals, and ensure you stick to them when practices begin. You got this!
On The Stage
Not sure where to start? On The Stage’s comprehensive, all-in-one platform can help with just about everything as it pertains to your summer stock – from promotion to ticket sales, reporting, audience engagement and fundraising. Summer’s almost here, so book your demo today to get started.
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