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Pre-Production Process

September 4, 2013

Now that the summer is done, I’ve already had my first two meetings planning two more shows I’m doing in the future this past week. Sometimes pre-production planning is a short process. One of the shows I had a meeting about is going up in just over 6 weeks from now, which I’d consider a very fast process. While another show I had a meeting for this week I don’t plan on seeing it go up until June. A lot of shows does take about a year to fully plan a show- from working on the script, finding the right theatre within budget, to hiring people to be apart of the production team. I’ve also had shows start pre-production and finish its final performance within a 6 week time frame. Now some of you who are theatre newbies, or actors that often aren’t involved with the pre-production process, might be wondering: “what’s involved with the pre-production process? when is a production no longer in the early stages?”

Here’s my personal subjective perspective on it through my own theatrical lens:

Since every show is different, it’s hard to say WHAT goes into pre-production per say. Sometimes, discussions of staged readings to continue developing the script happens in that time. Other times it can involve the biggest concerns that might be connected to that particular play; such as things that might be expensive that the script calls for, or safety concerns like fire in the show or medical issues. The bulk of the time, here’s what pre-production meetings usually entails:

– Possible further development and changes in the script.
– Finding the right director to discuss artistic concepts so the playwright and director can be on the same page (pardon the pun); along with the dramaturg (if a production is fortunate enough to have one).
– Financial Budget; Raising Money.
– Finding the right theatre to produce the show.
– Hiring on more people (for lights, sounds, costumes, set, etc.), along with hiring anything else that particular production may need, such as a fight choreographer or a projections designer.
–  Auditions: When, Where, and How to run them.

I’d say for most productions, especially in the Off-Off Broadway (aka Indie Theatre) world, that a show is no longer in Pre-Production once the auditions are happening and the casting has begun. For me that tends to be when it really hits me, that it’s really happening and all the pieces of the production’s puzzle are falling into place (and I love that feeling)! I also feel that in most cases, the actors are the last ones to join the team of being collaborators apart of a production. All the other people who come on board (like the designers for all technical aspects and the stage manager to keep things running smoothly) should be hired long before auditions take place. Once the casting is done and you have a (hopefully) loving and talented group of actors in your show, that’s when it should be complete, and the production is well on its way to going up!

My personal favorite part of the pre-production process is one that sounds weird to say, but it’s when it’s over and rehearsals have begun. Not because I hate pre-planning (in fact, I LOVE pre-planning), but it’s because it’s only after all the pre-production work is done that you get to see what has become of everything you have planned. Especially from the producer perspective, but also a playwright, director, and in most cases dramaturgs perspective as well. It should feel really good to see that it’s all coming together; especially from a directors eye (my main lens that I look through), because directors are actively involved in every step of the process; we watch and give our thoughts from a very close eye. So once we start to see the show on its feet even before getting to the theatre, it’s a good rewarding feeling (and one of my favorite feelings in the world).

sarah sig

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Tattooed Theatre Student permalink
    September 4, 2013 3:44 pm

    this was interesting to read from an ‘indie theatre’ point of view as well as a directors point of view (: something I’d never really thought about before!

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