Producing a play involves a lot of hard work and a lengthy process, but the end results are always worth it as long as everyone does their part.
To help you understand what all goes into the average production, here is a rough outline of how plays get from the script to the stage. Not every director, company, producer or individual play will follow this exact process, but it will give you an idea of how the typical production schedule will run:
1. Find a Script
Naturally, the first step is to decide which play you will be producing. Scripts should be chosen not just for their artistic quality but also based on how realistically the production can be assembled given your specific limitations. For example, few local theatre companies will have the resources to put on Phantom of the Opera, but Our Town can be accomplished with minimal elements.
2. Figure Out the Nitty Gritty
This step involves several smaller but equally-pivotal steps:
Deciding who will be in charge. Assigning titles like director, choreographer, producer, musical director, etc. will help establish chain-of-command and make decisions easier
Forming a rough budget. Even if all you have is pocket lint, the available funds must be accounted for and allotted towards certain needs like costumes and publicity. This step can also involve determining volunteers to help with production work, like finding a skilled seamstress who is willing to contribute for free. Determining a venue is also crucial at this time.
Crafting an initial artistic vision. The producer and the director will have to work together to decide their initial interpretation of the script. This interpretation must account for the available budget as well as any ideas each party brings to the table. For instance, maybe this production of Hamlet will be set in 1980s Miami?
Auditions let the director and producer find actors who are able to fill the needed roles. At this point, technical workers like lighting crew, stage crew and others may be assigned or hired.
Rehearsals go through their own multi-step process:
Read through: The first rehearsal usually involves a “table read” of the script where each person simply says their lines in character. Directors may choose to cut or modify lines at this point based on how the table read goes.
Blocking: Blocking is the process of determining how actors will move throughout a scene. Most stage directions are quite bare, so the director will have to figure out who is going to be doing what while they say their lines. Blocking usually takes up the first one to two weeks of rehearsal.
Rehearse, rehearse and rehearse some more: Blocking, line deliveries and even script elements will be modified at first to fit within the director’s needs and vision. Eventually, actors will have to memorize their lines and be try to get the play perfect in preparation for opening night.
Special rehearsals. Plays that require singing or dancing will often have separate rehearsals at first to practice these elements before they can be brought into regular rehearsals.
Dress rehearsal. In the last weeks of rehearsal, costumes, props and finalized set elements should all be ready to be incorporated within rehearsal. A final set of rehearsals known as “dress rehearsals” imitate the exact conditions of the live production.
5. Publicity and Opening Night
Finally, the producer must advertise the play in order to ensure that an audience will be there. Publicity should be ongoing for several weeks leading up to the first production. These publicity efforts can involve fliers, school announcements, newspaper coverage, paid advertisements and anything else the producer can do to draw an audience for their play.
Once rehearsals have been perfected and an audience has been assembled, everyone will gather for opening night to see if all the hard work has paid off. A play will usually run for a few nights to a few weeks. Longer productions will require constant regular and dress rehearsals to keep everyone at the top of their game in between shows.
You can catch the fruits of all this labor in action at one of Lionheart’s community theatre plays. Buy tickets for Norcross community theatreby clicking the preceding link, and join us for auditions if you want to be a part of this action.