Posts Tagged ‘theater’

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

From the Editor’s Perch…

August 6, 2012

http://nycp.blogspot.com/2012/07/republican-theater-festival.html

My friend Scot sent me this link, bless his soul (that he denies he has)… even though it made him “gag”.  (One of the great things about newer technology and the internet is that you throw up in your own home, on your own keyboard.  You can tell people about it… but it’s not the same.  Happy Face!)

Anyway, any pro-Republican stance is such an odd event to have happen in the live theater community that it has gotten some press:  http://blogs.phillymag.com/the_philly_post/2012/07/26/republican-theater-festival/

The last theater I’ve heard of which offered a platform for Republican ideas was the year the Humana New Theater Festival produced by the Actors Theatre of  Louisville offered William Buckley a play spot in the line-up (1988-89).  This was a nationally recognized event which brought enormous media attention to the Louisville Theatre.  Which was just what the festival founder and the idea’s originator, Jon Jory, had had in mind.   When Jory spoke to the Seattle contingent of The Dramatists Guild in 2011 he said that his thinking was that if theater is drama involving everybody, why not bring the one contingent which was not currently represented on the stage to the Festival?   He got what he wanted, but he added that it was “5 years before some people in the Theatre would speak with me”.  (He didn’t mention how nice this can be.) 

My personal idea of what a Progressive’s argument might look like.

Anyway, we haven’t travelled any distance since then!  Perhaps Progressives are as bright as they believe they are, because political theater nowadays is still what it was thoseadays: agiprop, show trials, or puff pieces for the latest liberal topic d’jour, with a fall-off to plays about racism, and those awful Nazis who are even better than Nixon to kick around.   Progressives are somehow able to make time stand still and make no change at all happen; which is something Conservatives have been straining to do for ages!  (A hard palm to the forehead.)

I don’t know how good this Theatre Festival will be.  On the one hand, it has enormous conversational and situational ground to mine.  On the other hand, good theater with an authentic voice can take a long time to create.  Like a major league club, you need a lot of farm teams and a lot of amateur players all over the country who ardently aspire to a dream.  You need a lot of Conservative writers, standing on the shoulders of a lot of others to create a zeitgeist which can press on the gas pedal with as much strength as it is now pressing on the brake.  And they need to build an audience with a taste for this.

But… it’s a start.  And it would make us look better than clubbing Harp seals.  – Carl Nelson

Images borrowed from the Internet.

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

From the Editor’s Perch…

June 24, 2012

Selling Art

Creativity and Sales

Posture is Everything

SELLING

Selling is a great teacher.  And one thing selling has taught me is that in order for people to part with their money, they have to feel certain.  People must feel certain that what you are offering is what they need.  And people must feel certain that you can provide what you are offering.  After that, you are dickering over cost.

Of course, each of these factors bleed into one another.  But, what they all have in common is this feeling of certainty

This presents problems for the marketing of Art.  Because Art is full of questionables, imponderables, unnamables, inscrutables, immeasurables, unfathomables… the list is long.  But all have one thing in common: ‘uncertainty’. 

Now whether people are buying something or giving money away, they still want this sense of certainty that their assets are not being wasted.  So how does one go about selling Art?

Well, the only thing more uncertain than Art might be people.  And traditionally people are sold by dressing them up in certainties.  You dress successful; you act successful; you speak successful; you move successful; you associate with success – you appear successful… and you stand your best chance of being purchased successfully, because you have made people most certain of your success.

Art is sold in much the same way.  What is absolutely undefinable, unfathomable and inscrutable is dressed up in the certainties.  Let’s see how this applies to the theater.

Your average regional theater purchases successful produced plays to present; it uses successful authors; it hires successful directors and actors and set, sound and lighting people.  Its productions take place in up to date venues located in the better part of town.  It struggles to become the most prominent (successful) theater in town.  The more successful the theater appears, the more money it is given.  And the more money it has, the less risk it can afford to take.  Because, the rule is, you only spend your money with certainty.

CREATIVITY

The creative artist creates.  They are not re-iterative.  They lack production tools, marketing brio…  Everything is a prototype.  Nothing goes into production.  Once something has been produced, then the artist’s job is done. 

The creative artist tends to spurn the trappings of success, because trappings are hindering, because they are already known quantities, because they are certain.   The artist’s job is to pursue what is uncertain, ineffable, unknowable and caste it in the certain.  For example, we cannot wholly know a person – but we can write their speech.  We can record how they act.  We can illuminate and give insight.  We can create the feeling of certainty.  “They feel so real,” an observer might say, or even, “I knew that person.”  From immanence (pagan) or transcendence (Judeo-Christian), but more likely from some of both such certainties are sculpted.  The creative artist sculpts certainty from risk.  And because money is shy of risk; money necessarily skirts the creative.  It is a very great artist indeed who can create the certain as a naked thing, and just walk them out of the sea.  Even the best often must dress them in some fashionable garb or another.

So, okay.  I’ll cut right to the chase and say, yes, money is good for Selling; but it’s bad for Creativity.  So the next time your hear your local Arts organizations lamenting the fact of there being no money out there for the Arts…  just think:  Maybe bad for them, but good for us!

Photo by Carl Nelson

From the Editor’s Perch…

June 23, 2012

 

Does Art Make You a Better Person?

A lot of people, mostly artists I’ve noticed, say it does.   And it’s usually only artists – or people in arts related careers, who are pitching for a fuller revenue stream  – who broach this topic.  You rarely hear of a lawyer, or a garbage collector, or a plumber, or a cop, or a mayor, or any of any number of professions raise this question about themselves.  They seem to take it for granted that being paid for doing something useful is worthwhile, and hopefully, that participating in life in this capacity makes them a better person.  But it may not.  That’s the way it goes.  A person has to get the food on the table. 

However, artists have a lot of trouble even ‘getting food to the table’.  So another reason to justify doing what they are doing seems necessary.  Personally, I would keep looking for a reason, because I haven’t seen the theater turning out superior persons.  Mostly it makes them like gambling addicts who will squander their last few dollars to create a hit.  Their relationships founder; their lawns are not mown;  weeds abound in the flower beds, their homes tilt; the children either aren’t conceived or grow up a little funny, and financially the whole consortium dances right along the edge.  Actors and writers maintain that assuming the personalities of a variety of characters gives them insight into the human condition.  What I see is that it adds quite a little arrogance to their own condition.  We are always writing/acting ourselves.  Who’s kidding who?  It’s as plain as the nose on our faces – which doesn’t change.  Has art made me a better person?  I can’t say it has.  But age, and life, may have formed me a bit.

How About Beer?

But has beer made me a better person?   I can’t say it has, either.  But I enjoy it.  And so I enjoy art.  I enjoy making it.  I enjoy watching and listening and experiencing it.  I enjoy talking about it.  And like most artists, I figure out a method  of paying my way.   Isn’t that enough?  

Photo by Carl Nelson of John Ruoff/Mime

Addendum:  “There are, of course, more important things than art:  life itself, what actually happens to you.  This may sound silly, but I have to say it, given what I’ve heard art-silly people say all my life…  Art shouldn’t be overrated.”  – Clement Greenberg

Seattle Celebrity News!

May 19, 2012

Jorj Knocks Them Dead as a Fetus

Interutero Jorj is Astonished to Find Something Growing in His Pajamas

Our own playwright/actor Jorj Savage is onstage yet again, in Scot Bastian’s latest mind-bending playlet, “The Children’s Chronicles”.  In another role he has virtually ‘made his own’, Jorj first plays a fetus.  Later, we follow him as he takes his first baby steps to reclaim his patrimony.  Buoyed in his role by his SIS, played by the redoubtable Josie Delillis – these two savage the comic landscape as they accoust their delinquent father  (PEPINO played by Will Phillips) on a beach drinking beer and leering at the ladies.  You will have a chance to see it again at the Seattle Playwrights Showcase this Sunday at 7pm at ArtsWest.  Wine and treats are also served.  And Jorj usually comes out to say ‘hi’ to all of his many fans.  (If you would like something signed, bring it, wear it, or expose it!)

 

Photos by Carl Nelson


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