The curtains have closed on your last performance. Your cast and crew feel happy, accomplished, and ready for some rest.
But before you wrap up this chapter of your theatre journey, a post-mortem is necessary to improve your next showcase. You may be asking what, exactly, is a post-mortem. Much like a locker room breakdown after a game or a conference call after a big pitch, a post-mortem is a deep-dive analysis into production to create a growth mindset for the future, mixing celebration with evaluation.
Post-mortems can be tricky, especially if you have to point out big mistakes and troubleshoot how to learn from them. But ultimately, these evaluations set up a strong foundation for your next show, strengthening your theatre as a whole and preparing your cast and crew for successful futures.
Questions to Ask
As the leader of your production, it’s your responsibility to drive the post-mortem forward with questions and comments that are constructive rather than critical. Remember, a post-mortem is not just for your cast. Ensure you have everyone involved in the process – from lighting and sound technicians to directors, administration, front-of-house staff, and producers.
A few questions you can ask at large include:
- How do your performers feel they did?
- How do your crew members feel about their performances?
- How does your marketing team feel about their efforts?
- What do they all wish they did better?
- What elements do they think were fantastic all around?
- How well did your cast and crew feel that they were led?
- What changes would they like to see in leadership style?
- Did secondary leaders – like choreographers and vocal coaches – give the cast what they needed to succeed?
- Do your cast and crew feel they had enough time to perfect their performances?
- Do your cast and crew feel they had adequate time off and were able to balance other priorities?
- How well was your performance promoted on social media?
- How widespread were other marketing efforts like physical fliers, email outreach, and merch pushing?
- How well did your team find and secure business partners and community partners? Were those relationships fostered well enough and maximized?
- Were there any negative experiences/incidents felt by the cast or crew?
- Did your cast and crew feel emotionally supported throughout the process?
- Do you, as the leader, need to address any cliques/bullies within your cast?
- How seamless was your ticketing process – both online and at the door?
- How was the customer service of your front-of-house staff?
- If you held fundraisers, did they go according to plan?
- Did you sell the amount of tickets you wanted to?
- How well did your front-of-house staff push merchandise, food, and drink before, during, and after performances?
- Did you stay on budget for your production? If not, where did you over- or under-spend? How can you fix that for the next production?
Fostering a Growth Mindset
It’s no secret that post-mortems can be a discouraging time – they can easily turn into negative events that leave everyone unsatisfied. But with a few tips, your post-mortem can be constructive rather than destructive. So, how can you learn from mistakes while fostering a growth mindset?
Avoid Direct Blame
- Pointing out errors in your show will be tough enough without specifically blaming a certain person or group of people. So, avoid direct blame if ever possible, because a show is ultimately all about teamwork. After all, if someone messed up, they’re surely beating themselves up about it already.
Keep A Positive Attitude
- You may be exhausted, sleep-deprived, and frustrated, but you cannot enter into a post-mortem with a negative attitude.
- Don’t present a large chunk of criticism without praise to even out the atmosphere.
- If you didn’t like the way something went or a choice someone made, be prepared to offer an alternative to fix the issue. After all, nothing will change if a better option isn’t presented.
Create Actionable Items
- Perhaps the best way to create a growth mindset is the creative actionable items during your post-mortem to accomplish going forward.
- Don’t make vague goals; that’s helpful to no one.
- Create specific timelines for your goals as well.
Allow Everyone to Have a Voice
- You do not want anyone to leave a post-mortem feeling like they were silenced. Make sure you give a platform to everyone – from the producers to the lead roles to the crew and ensemble.
- On the opposite end of the coin, set up time limits and ensure no one talks too long. You don’t want to drag out the process more than necessary.
End on a Positive Note
- Remember that what you’ve accomplished as a group is a huge deal – even if there were some hiccups.
- As you’re wrapping up, make sure to reiterate that you’re proud of everyone involved and cannot wait to move forward with new goals in mind.
Share Your Post-Mortem Meeting Notes
- You may have shared a lot of information with your people in a short period of time, so make sure you have a designated note-taker during your post-mortem.
- Organize the notes quickly and get them out to your cast and crew following the port-mortem. This will set everyone up for success!
Enter On The Stage
While the post-mortem process may seem daunting, it offers a variety of benefits – from general reflection to better positioning in future works.
Luckily, On The Stage presents a complete breakdown of the post-mortem process: The Theatre Post-Mortem Demystified. Download it now to get started.
The On The Stage Team can help from the very beginning casting call to the very final bow and beyond. If you’re looking for a partner for your next successful production, book a personalized demo today to get started.