How to choose the right venue for an agents showcase

Choosing the right venue for an agents showcase is no easy task, but once you've secured a good venue and you're happy then you can concentrate on your main aim - acting! (And getting agents to come and watch you, but that's a whole different process!)

The main things to think about are:

The location. The cost. The space. The time & date.

The Location:

You need to be close enough so that people will actually come. Nobody is going to travel 3 hours into the countryside on a train and three different buses to come and watch you, unless you're Kenneth Branagh - and I'm assuming you're not because he seems pretty sorted agent wise. If you're based in/near London, it's more than likely the agents you'll be looking to entice are based in London. So find a venue in London.

The Cost:

What's your budget? Are you funding it yourself? Are all of the cast chipping in? Have you got a sponsor or a rich friend? How good are you at haggling?

Enquire to a few places and you'll soon get a rough idea of what you can and can't afford. Make sure everyone is happy and comfortable with the cost - you don't want to book a venue and find people start backing out when it's payment time. The venue is probably going to be your main expense, but don't forget to budget for costume/props/transport/flyers/banners etc.

The Space:

What are you getting for your money. . . Dressing rooms? Lighting? Sound? Technician? Rehearsal days? Is the performance area big enough for you? How many seats are in the audience? Will you have seats left over that you can sell to the public? If you're selling to the public, will the venue advertise for you/let you display banners?

The Date:

Yes, this is still classed as work for an agent - they're not going to want to be working at 11pm on a Saturday night. Choose a sensible date, a date that gives you enough time to rehearse and enough time for you to contact agents. Of course, the day of the week may affect the price. Don't choose a date that RADA are having their showcase, or any of the other big players - you won't be able to compete. Choose a sensible time. They're not going to turn up at 9am - they've got last nights emails to catch up on. Some agents might go on their lunch hour, if they even take a lunch hour. But late afternoon means agents can slip away from work an hour or so early, watch your showcase and not be home too late. Early evening means agents can drop by straight after work. Any later and they'll have to go home first and probably not want to go out again. If in doubt, ask. You must know some other actors who have been there already, see where and when they did a showcase - they might even have a contact who runs a venue. Call agents, probably don't give your name, but ask what day is typically good for them to visit showcases. .