Posts Tagged ‘Rik Deskin’

Seattle Celebrity News!

September 8, 2012

Champagne and Duck (well… chicken) Were Served

SAVE THE DUCK! BENEFIT IS A BIG SUCCESS!!

Warp Productions has done it again, with a big save for the Odd Duck.  Hundreds of dollars  were reportedly made.  Culture (and duck) was served.  And all sorts of luminaries were there, both onstage and off.  Here are a few of the highlights:

Photos by Carl Nelson

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Seattle Celebrity News!

August 3, 2012

FLASH!  Odd Duck Dodges the Soup!!!

“Good things CAN happen.”

“Eclectic Theater Company is now caught up on the rent of Odd Duck Studio! :)”  Rik Deskin posted yesterday on Facebook.  To the landslide of congratulatory comments that were posted, Rik said: “All I did is receive the check. Kudos go out to the person who made it happen. :)”  The editor could only add to this: “Cudos from The Seattle Celebrity News!  too.”

Photo by Carl Nelson of professional actor.

Seattle Celebrity News!

July 27, 2012

Editor’s Note:  Here’s the latest backstage conversation in the ongoing business of running/saving small theater.  This one continues the saga of Rik Deskin and the Odd Duck.

Save the Duck From the Soup!

“Well, since you won’t be around Ellen, I’ll fill you in a little on my idea. I thought we might have a sort of mini-fundraiser WARP night where we could do rehearsed staged-readings of plays and sketches involving ducks. I thought we might charge each participant (i.e. writer or actor five bucks and any interested audience non-participants eight bucks and pass along all the cash to Rik. we could possibly even have Rik introduce it. I thought that we could do Donna’s “Devil Ducks” sketch, my little play “Quack You!” end with your song about ducks that you had Natalya and Mari do there silly dance to a few shows ago. This isn’t enough for a whole show yet, so we’d need more material.

The way I have it envisioned, is not as a full production, but similar to a bumper contest. We could even make a party out of it. The idea is to BOTH stimulate interest in WARP and give a little help to the Odd Duck.

 

I kind of like my suggestion for a title:

 

“Save the Duck From the Soup!”

 

These are just my thoughts, subject to revision by group-think, of course.” – group e mail from Scot Bastian

Here’s What YOU Do!

Just a little shout-out to old WARPers to show up at the WARP workshop, which meets nearly every week, but attendance has been a little thin this summer–probably because the very nice weather (many are out of town for vacation.)  This Tuesday is particularly important because we want to discuss a yet-to-be-scheduled fund raiser for the Odd Duck Theater.  Come on out, bring your plays and your acting talent.  For more info about the group, check our website at warptheater.org.

 Location: Odd Duck Theater, 1214 10th Avenue, Seattle WA 98122

 Time:  7PM Tuesdays–particularly this Tuesday July 31st.

Photo by Carl Nelson

 

 

Seattle Celebrity News!

July 19, 2012

UPDATE!

“Guys and Gals,

Eclectic Theater Company and Odd Duck Studio are not closing down because of a 3-day pay or vacate notice. We’ve made a payment and are making another payment today and have communicated with the property management, letting them know that we intend to be caught up by the end of the month.

This is not a hopeless situation. It’s an opportunity to get back on track. With fiscal sponsorship from the Shunpike, our IndieGoGo Campaign, Box Office from future shows and anticipated production rental revenue, we will get caught up and stabilized.

So do not hesitate to make a monetary donation of any amount you can muster either through our Click and Pledge button on our website athttp://www.eclectictheatercompany.org/ or via a contribution to our IndieGoGo Campaign here: http://igg.me/p/168795?a=64586”  – Rik Deskin

Photos by Carl Nelson

Seattle Celebrity News!

July 16, 2012

Editor’s note:  Rik Deskin gives us good insight as to just how the numbers pencil out when running an under 99 seat black box theater… and the travails from running any live theater venue.

Rik tries to manage a plethora of theater and live comedy and keep it all in the black.

A Note About Fiscal Responsibility

By Rik Deskin

Earlier today, I got word from my monthly renter of one of the three studios that make up the Odd Duck Studio that we had received a 3 day pay or vacate notice from the property management. The amount due now is $5050.69.

This is not a surprise as we have been two-three months behind in the rent for several months now. A very large rental and a few smaller rentals canceled their shows at the last minute in May and June. An actual worse repeat of what occurred last summer due to the size of one of the rentals being a 3 month-long booking.

I of course had no other recourse but to solicit other companies/groups looking for space. No one was looking that late in the year. So I put together a summer series of comedy shows to help fill the weeks partially. None of them has sold more than half capacity (yet as we have one more tomorrow night) and three did not even make the rent for the evening. And one had a performer oblivious to the policy I had put into place that rent must be paid before performers in a box office split, demanding reimbursement of their expenses or face small claims court, putting us behind by an additional $85. Because being the nice, easy-going person that I am, I wrote them that check even though we could not afford to. That was the last vestige of fiscal irresponsibility that I will allow.

In May we instituted the policy of shows that are co-productions, resulting in a box office split, the first $125 that comes through the door per night, always goes to the rental of the theater. The next $125 goes to the performers/co-producer. After that, it’s a 50/50 split. This reduces Eclectic Theater Company’s risk, still makes performance space accessible to groups that cannot afford a rental, and puts the onus on the co-producer to sell tickets. This has been an occasional problem in the past because some co-producers failed to make much effort in promoting their shows, resulting in reduced attendance.

We also now have a new invoicing software so that we can efficiently manage rental productions and are enforcing the 25% deposit and no cancellations less than 30 days before, otherwise if you cancel in less than 30, you are responsible for still paying the rental. We refuse to be put in this economic situation again so will be stringent on this policy.

Eclectic Theater Company, out of a desire to give back to the theatre artists, used to give space credit as a form of compensation. That is no longer economically viable. We will always strive to give a stipend based on box office after rental costs are met. That is all we can do for now.

The fiscal reality is that we have monthly rent, electricity and insurance to pay. That does not go away.

Because we are being as fiscally responsible as we can be with less revenue than we actually need to run the place, we’ve fallen behind again.

Live Comedy: Tossing wadded balls of money at them, or anything valuable, is generally appreciated

Add to that a lapse in Eclectic Theater Company’s ability to fundraise through a revocation of our non-profit status right before we were about to receive a gift of $5000 in May, we were injured by not being able to accept that gift a few months ago.

Because we’re trying to be fiscally responsible with no paid staff and only a few volunteers, we applied to the Shunpike’s Associate Artist Program. They excel in fiscal responsibility and the business of art. And they are now Eclectic Theater Company’s fiscal sponsor and will be doing the back office work that being a volunteer, I never had the time to focus on because as an unemployed actor, my first priority is seeking employment.

We’ve also taken on a partner, in House of Cards Theatre Company, who are paying $200 a month in order to regularly produce three shows throughout the year and help to upgrade and beautify the interior and exterior of Odd Duck Studio.
This weekend members from House of Cards Theatre Company, The Schoolyard, and The Confrontational Theater Project are teaming up to replace the theater seating with newer seating.

The ecology at Odd Duck Studio is and has always been very fragile. Our monthly rent is $1500. We have Alleged Tattoo that leases a space monthly from us paying a third of the rent ($500). We have WARP which nearly always rents Tuesday night from us which is another $108-$135 a month. The rest has to be made up via box office revenue or additional rentals. Most months there are an abundance of performances that help us make ends meet. I like to stack the deck and hope that some shows sell even when some don’t. And hope that concessions sales contribute.
Today after posting the initial announcement of being sponsored by Shunpike and my renewed plea to donors, I received a reply asking why we need to raise money for rent again when we just did that last year, raising $2075. This person questioned our fiscal responsibility.

This is what I need and ask from the community:

1. If you have booked a rental, please pay your 25% deposits now. If you can pay the full rental booked, even better. Current tally of invoiced rental revenue that is outstanding is $9978.50. 25% of that is $2494.62. That deposit amount alone gets us nearly half way to being caught up.

2. If you have rented space and have not paid yet, please do so now.

3. If you are a producer and have a show you want to rent space for, we will bump Eclectic Theater Company’s shows in favor of the rental revenue. As long as we are not already in production.

4. If you are a producer that can’t afford to rent but have a show or shows that you know you can sell tickets for, we’ll consider continuing the co-production box office split scenario based on the policies noted above in paragraph four. The key to this being successful is that you must market and promote your show. Be responsible.

5. If you can buy tickets to shows, that’s always good.

6. If you have loaned us money in the past that we have been unable to pay back, please consider letting that be a donation for which we will request a retroactive donation receipt from Shunpike (if that is even possible). Or continue to be lenient with us paying you back. We will eventually.

7. Donate to our cause. We are an important facilitator and incubator in Seattle for Theatre, Improv, Stand-Up and Sketch Comedy, Screenplays, Independent Films and have a great history and legacy of moving theatre and film artists forward in their professional careers.

8. If you cannot give financial gifts, consider volunteering in some capacity. We want to build the company into a stable organization that can actually pay artists and staff. We can only do that with people engaged in helping to set Eclectic Theater Company up for success.

Thank you for your belief, faith and support in the work that we do at Odd Duck Studio.

“And while I’m at it, how about a Celebrity Drink?”

Photos by Carl Nelson

Seattle Celebrity News!

June 30, 2012

Editor’s Note:  Rik Deskin’s interview was posted here https://schn00dles.wordpress.com/category/seattle-celebrity-news/page/4/ about a year and a half ago.  Since then, Rik has followed through on his urge to promote comedy through his Odd Duck venue.  But the economics of the theater are quite bleak.  Producing live theater is for the faithful.  And when some artists involved behave like rabble, it can seem even bleaker.  Nevertheless, a person who ‘does’ something for what they believe in, that’s a little more than themselves, can always hold their head up.  Here’s a follow-up: 

Musing the Equation

A Behind-the-Scenes Look into the Economy of Live Theater

“A note about Odd Duck Studio to Comedians, Actors, Performers and Producers

Some of you know this. Some of you may be oblivious. I write this after spending several long hours in the Emergency Room with my 17-year old (for a possible concussion) and only a few hours of sleep. Don’t worry, he’s okay, but I’m now down $150 for the co-pay.

I am not independently wealthy. I am an unemployed actor. With a wife and four kids. Occasionally I do book acting work. Sometimes I work as a stagehand. Sometimes as a temp.

I started Eclectic Theater Company as a non-profit organization, hopeful that eventually, this company would provide me some income as the Producing Artistic Director. (I’m still working on that income part)

In 2006, my company, still all volunteer, took over management of the Odd Duck Studio. Primarily to have a venue where ETC could produce plays regularly and have a home, as well as be able to rent out the space to itinerant theater companies and co-produce Improv, Sketch and Stand-Up Comedy.

It’s been an uphill battle just to keep the doors open since the economy tanked in 2008. Since the beginning of the company, I have always given half of what was made at the box office or in donations to the performers and artists that work at my theater on anything I produced or co-produced. Sometimes sacrificing paying the rent on time (I do have to pay monthly rent for Odd Duck Studio: I’m not the owner), sometimes borrowing from my own family’s meager income to keep it afloat.

Which is why in May, I instituted a new policy on all productions and co-productions that were dependent on a box office split. The first $125 in the door paid the rent for the night. The second $125 would go to the performers. After that it would be a 50/50 split. But before anything was distributed, we would have to take 5% out of the overall gross for the Admissions Tax that must be paid to the City of Seattle.

Katie Morgan

These kinds of shows are risky to me. Sometimes they can sell-out, enabling everyone to walk away happy. Sometimes they barely meet the rent threshold. And I staff it with volunteers and spend volunteer time to market and try to sell tickets. It’s great for the other co-producer. All they have to do is promote the show and show up to perform. Which is far easier and less risky for them than renting the space at a flat rate and selling tickets and providing their own crew to run the box office, lights and sound.
Last year, a producer booked a large rental use of the Odd Duck Studio that would have covered our basic costs (rent and electricity) from May-July. They cancelled in May, leaving me scrambling to fill the dates with something that could possibly generate revenue. Right now we are two months behind in the rent.

I posted in all the Facebook groups that I’m in, that cover theatre, film, improv and stand-up to see if anyone wanted to rent space, produce or co-produce shows. Nothing. Only the sound of crickets. So I put together the Brown Bag Comedy Primetime Specials. I thought I was pretty clear in my original posting that this endeavor was solely dependent on box office revenue And that I would need the help of the Comics booked to promote their shows so that we can sell tickets so that I can pay the Comics. So far only two shows have made the rent and given something back to the Comics. I would much rather pay $74 to a headliner (I know that’s below Comedy Club rates) than $1.35. But that can only happen when tickets are sold and they don’t do that by themselves.

This brings up another point. Odd Duck Studio is not a Comedy Club. It is a theater run by Eclectic Theater Company, a non-profit organization. We don’t have a kitchen, restaurant or full bar to cover our costs like other venues. Our partial bar/concessions basically pays for itself most nights. The person behind the concessions counter only makes tips. Last night I made $4 between two shows. I think the most I’ve made is $35 in one night.

Here is my original post from May 22, 2012:

“Eclectic Theater Company at Odd Duck Studio is looking for Comedians for a series of Brown Bag Comedy Primetime Friday night specials throughout the summer. Two formats: Hour long special with two 15 minute Opener slots (one is the Host) and a 30 minute Feature. Ticket is $10. 50% of the box office (after 5% admissions tax) goes to the Comedians after rent threshold has been met ($125). That means when the show sells out (49 seats), 3 Comedians would be splitting up to $232.75.

90 minute special would be a traditional format with a MC/Opener (15 minutes), Feature (30 minutes) and Headliner (45 minutes). $15 Ticket with 3 Comedians splitting up to $349.12. Same applies with rent, etc above.

The splits would be proportional to performance time lengths.

Keep in mind that I’m a volunteer running a non-profit theater venue, so 50% is the maximum I can split on these shows in order to keep the doors open and I would need the help of the Comedians booked to actually promote and sell their shows. I know the door split is less than some Comedy Clubs, but that’s all I can offer for now.

I know it’s possible to do as demonstrated by Hari Kondabolu and Katie Morgan over the last two years.

With this all in mind I’m looking for serious Comedians willing to invest their time and effort to being on the rosters of these shows and making a little extra pocket change. As soon as the rosters are full for each show, I can begin listing them on Brown Paper Tickets and marketing. And if any savvy graphic creators want to design an image for a show or all the shows, a percentage can go to compensating that as well.

Show dates will be:

June 1, 8:30-9:30pm
June 15, 8-9:30pm
June 22, 8:30-9:30pm
June 29, 8-9:30pm
July 6, 8:30-9:30pm
July 13, 8-9:30pm
July 27, 8:30-9:30pm”

Why tell you this? Because I love Stand-Up Comedy as much as I love Theatre, Improv, Sketch Comedy and Film. Stand-Up has been a component of Eclectic Theater Company’s programming as early as 2007 when Blood Squad would bring in Comics from PROK to open the shows. It’s been a part of my life since I trained in Improv and Sketch, and observed Comics working at The Comedy Workshop in Houston back in 1988-1989. In December, 2010, there was a vacuum left by Giggles turning its back on Comedians. I wanted to help by offering a weekly open mic to help Comedians work their craft and give Comedians an easy venue to work with and sell-out (like Hari Kondabolu, Katie Morgan, Blood Squad and Yogi Paliwal) and help me keep the venue open as a place for all of us to work.

I want you to understand the economics. The business of the art. On nights like last night where the bulk of the tickets are sold through Brown Paper Tickets instead of over the phone or in person, I don’t see that money until the following weekend. On the evenings where we do sell enough so that I can give back to the performers, that money usually comes out of any cash sales that happen because I want to send Comics home with something.

Every once in a great while, I encounter an actor or a burlesque artist or a comedian that does not understand why I can’t pay them the rates they are accustomed to and that I wish I could pay them and they somehow think I’ve lied to them and am living it big off a show that sells less than half the 49 seat capacity. Ladies and Gentlemen, here is the truth. I do not make a penny (beyond potential tips) until we pass the $250 mark at the box office on any given night. And if rent needs to be paid, electricity, insurance, then I waive any possible pay for my time in order to keep the theater open and available.

So those open mic nights where no one buys a ticket and no one buys a beverage or snack? I eat that time and expense bussing or driving to and fro and the time to facilitate other performers cultivating their craft.

From this point on, you cannot say that I never explained it to you. This is my contract with all of you that choose to perform at my theater. I encourage anyone out there that thinks they can do it better than me and keep this venue open, then by all means the gauntlet is thrown. I’d love to have your help. If you are going to take a hit financially by coming to perform in a show that has no guarantee that it will sell, then don’t do it. I’m not the Mafia. I’m not going to twist your arm. I’m trying to build something long-term here that I am hopeful will eventually always pay everyone that works with my company.

Sincerely,

Rik Deskin”

Photos by Carl Nelson

Seattle Celebrity News!

February 23, 2011

Rik Deskin 

Artistic Director of the Eclectic Theater / Manager of the Odd Duck

It’s the small, inexpensive rental venues around town which are the cracks from which much of the newly created local theater sprouts.  The Odd Duck, on Capital Hill, has a long history of being such a place.  It’s a cheap enough spot where you can afford to try virtually anything.  Currently, Rik Deskin, manages the Odd Duck… besides Acting, Directing and Being a Family Man.  This keeps him very busy and at the intersection of much of what is currently happening on the Seattle Fringe Theater scene.  So, he’s an interesting interview.  In this first section we talked a little bit about his comedy roots, and current theatrical aspirations.

What’s a sketch?  (one minute) 

“Sketch comedy is probably the weakest thing on the Seattle Theater scene,” Rik says.  “Ideally, what I would like to see…” (one minute)   

“The Comedy Workshop is where my roots are.”  (2 min. 30 sec) 

Photo by Carl Nelson

Plays and Such with Jorj Savage

January 27, 2011

Editor’s Note:  Jorj is back on the beat with these two selections you might enjoy:

Jorj Has Two Great Ideas for You

Rik Deskin’s Eclectic Theater Company is currently presenting Moliere’s THE MISANTHROPE Friday thru Sunday at The Odd Duck.  A talented cast of youngish actors are busting their chops for director Kate Huisentruit.  We have been hearing their rehearsal shouts and screams at our Tuesday WARP meetings at the Duck.  The space now has two rehearsal rooms in addition to the theater.  The show has pace and energy.  Bryan Bender is morose in the lead and Adria Morticella is a knockout as Philinte and two other roles.  She reacts, mugs, plays men’s parts, has her mustach fall off and reminds me of a young Carol Burnette.  The message that it is better to be truthful in polite society is perhaps timeless.  It gets you nowwhere.  They need audience and deserve support. The play runs Friday Thru Sunday through February 12th.  www.eclectictheatercompany.org ”  – Jorj

John Kazanjian has staged a little known David Mamet farce titled NOVEMBER at the new New City Theater (The Shoebox Theater) at 1404 18th Ave. (near Union). The show runs weekends through February 12th.  Where else but Seattle can you see this play and CYMBELINE an equally obscure Shakepeare play.  What a city.  The plot of NOVEMBER has to do with the President of the United States pardoing two turkeys at Thanksgaiving and authorizing a lesbian marriage.  There is a Native American thrown into the mix.” –  Jorj
Photo by Carl Nelson

Seattle Celebrity News!

January 10, 2011

Editor’s note:  I think perhaps WordPress will only allow a post of a certain line-length, and this has been what has been driving ME crazy.  So, I’ve cut my report on the Comedy Workshop into 3 portions.  This final portion shows the work of Diane Hassenger.  (Photos by Carl Nelson.)

The Comedy Workshop

My brother was talking this Christmas about what a fine Thanksgiving we all had.

I haven't had Thanksgiving with the family in SEVENTEEN years!

"Where did you think I was all that time?" I asked.

 

"....in the kitchen." He said.

 

To see more photos of the Comedy Workshop visit: http://carlnelson.imagekind.com/GalleryProfile.aspx?gid=bb260e0a-1d71-40a7-8431-a1c35f473529

Seattle Celebrity News!

January 10, 2011

And we’re back again, talking about the Comedy Workshop at the Odd Duck on Thursday evenings.  But first let’s have Rik mix us a drink:

Rik recomends the Bloody Molly (for only 3 bucks!)

Ahhhhhh!   That was good.   Okay.  Now, we’re ready for the second half.

Katie Morgan discussed dealing with the advances of men in tight places, like airplanes.

Katie Morgan

...stays aware.

Photos by Carl Nelson

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