How to put on a theatrical show in London
Putting on a theatrical show in a decent London venue is not easy, especially if you have no budget.
Last April a friend of mine came to me with his own script, I liked it and decided to produce and put the show on.
The first thing you need to do is search the wide database of fringe venues around London, that have suitable capacity and stage size for your needs, Casting Call Pro is a good starting point.
Once you have the list of venues, you must decide on a date to run and how long you want to run for. If you are wanting to get into the OFFIES (off west end festival/awards) or have reviewers attend your show, you must do a minimum of a three week run. The good thing about a three week run is that some venues will charge a box office split, rather than a fee.(The Space are very accommodating for this type of run) This can be very handy if you don't have a large budget.
For my production the theatre that was kind enough to allow us to run for two weeks on a box office split was The White Bear in Kennington. We managed to secure a box office split as our show was 60 minutes in total running time and we could go on straight after the earlier show. So, the manager of The White Bear wasn't at risk of loosing any money and was just filling in the time slots.
Its just about being in the right place at the right time.
Sourcing actors was easy, there seem to be so many great actors out there who are willing to work on a no budget/profit share production. I had a cast of 8 to find and my mistake was that I was too flexible with rehearsal dates. Because the show was unpaid I allowed actors to go off to castings,not turn up to rehearsals for acting jobs and other work commitments. Because I was lenient with this, some actors decided that a night out with their friends was more important than attending a rehearsal. Now, this was a group production, so if one actor didn't turn up, all the actors were at a loose end. This effected the group massively and cost me money as I was paying for the room hire for rehearsals.
So, my advice on rehearsals, block out X amount of weeks and don't allow any movement for any individual, its hard to do this when you are not offering finance, but trust me, there are alot of actors out there who would commit 100% and would love to play the role.
With regards to press, press will turn up if the play is new and interesting to them,call them two weeks before, and the day before to confirm they are attending, to entice them in I would suggest a 'press night' where there is a small bar tab (just one drink each if budget doesn't stretch), upon arrival they get a drink coupon. Trust me, then the press will turn up in flocks! :)
Try not to take the pressures of producing the production home with you, there were many nights I cried, wanted to pack it all in and didnt feel appreciated. So, try to go home and not think about the production, tomorrow is always a new day.
Good luck and most of all, enjoy the experience.