Putting The Show Together!

The upcoming presentation of my two act stage play Electric Serenade is currently in rehearsal and scheduled to premier on Sunday September 11 at Theater for the New City in East Greenwich Village in lower Manhattan as part of the 2022 Dream Up Festival.

Ad for Electric Serenade

It’s been an exciting experience but also full of challenges, most of which I didn’t see coming. What kind of challenges? Let me tell you.

LOCATION: The play is rehearsing and will be preformed in New York, but I live on the other side of the continent in California which means I can’t be present to see the show get put together. I’ve been in regular contact with the director Laurence C. Schwartz and we’ve been going over script changes, most of which is cutting out unnecessary dialogue. Admittedly it’s difficult to remove words that I spent so much time crafting, and I do need recovery time after one of our editing sessions, but I have to think about the final product and leave my ego out of it. Luckily I was in New York for the auditions so I could see all the potential actors, and I will return on September 7th for the final rehearsals and the premier.

At the audition in New York City on July 29th. I’m second from the right, sitting to my right is the director Larry Schwartz, and on either end are the two actors who read with the auditioning actors.

EQUITY: The actors we ended up casting are members of Actors’ Equity Association, which brought up more procedures and red tape that I was not expecting. This is an Off-Off-Broadway showcase (as opposed to a full production) so I didn’t think we would end up with Equity actors, but Larry the director said Equity actors are preferable because they’re professional, show up on time, and learn their lines and blocking in a timely way. I deferred to his recommendation and I’m very happy with the two actors we ended up casting,

Alicia Giangrisostomi as Joanna
Jamahl Garrison-Lowe as Mark

but dealing with the AEA bureaucracy posed some challenges. First, their NY office is still closed because of Covid so they’re all working from home which slows down communication. Second, my printer at home doesn’t work (Linux issue) so whenever I get a form from AEA to fill out, I have to take it to Kinko’s to get it printed, fill it out, sign it, then I have to scan it onto a USB, take it home, and then email it back to AEA. Not the worst thing, just a lot of extra steps. Third, I discovered that I had to have insurance for the actors.

INSURANCE: Who likes dealing with insurance? Anyone? So it turns out accident insurance is required for any show that features Equity actors. Since it’s a showcase instead of a full production with only six scheduled performances, that kept the rate relatively low, but still more paperwork to be filled out and another expense. Fortunately AEA had some insurance company recommendations and I found an affordable policy that covers my show.

CREDIT CARD DEBT: I’m producing this show which means I have to finance it, and since I’m not wealthy I have to rely on credit cards to put this all together. Production fee, rehearsal studio rental, payments to cast and crew, airline flights, other travel expenses, and an Airbnb rental all add up, and putting myself in the red is the only to get this done. Fortunately I’ll be able to itemize and write off these expenses as long as I declare whatever money I make from the box office, which probably won’t be much, but every little bit counts when you’re working on the margins of show biz.

GETTING THE END RIGHT: I rewrite far more than I write, and I’ve rewritten Electric Serenade many times, especially the end, but it still needs work. At this point all the writing and rewriting that can be done has been done, so now it’s working it out with the director, actors, and finding the right prop (I’d tell you what it is but I don’t want to give away the end) that brings the play to a symmetrical conclusion. I think the end is the most important part of any stage play or movie because it’s the lasting impression that stays with the viewer, and I along with the cast and crew have to make sure that this play ends with a bang and sends the audience home satisfied.

That’s all for now, I’ll post more later at this project moves ahead.

©️2022 Robert Kirkendall


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