Saturday, October 20, 2012

Having A Marketing Theme

Right now at The Seeing Place, we’re gearing up for our exciting start to Season 4. We just had our first rehearsal for the season opener, and on November 2 we’ll be having our official Season 4 Launch Party, where friends, family and patrons will get the chance to meet our company members and have an exclusive sneak peak at our upcoming season. (Join our list to get an invite.) We could not be more thrilled!

We commit to producing 5 plays over the course of the season in 3 programming times - fall, winter and late spring/early summer. There are a multitude of plays that our artistic director is tasked with choosing - not only does he need to think about what shows would fit our ensemble, but he also has to consider offering a balanced season (all of which will be covered in a future post about building a good artistic season.) As the Managing Director, I’m tasked with making sure that our season can be marketed and that our team has an overarching plan of attack that will span the season. But how does one do this when doing 5 different plays in 3 different programs?

When putting together our 3rd season last year, I had an idea as I looked at the subjects/topics of shows that were in consideration: What if we could choose a single theme for the season, and then base the show selection and marketing around that central idea? This is precisely what we did, and it worked out beautifully. We chose the theme, “Crimes of the Heart and the Politics of Sex” and chose 5 plays that told that story: Closer (Patrick Marber), Scotch Kiss (Brandon Walker), Three Sisters (Anton Chekhov, adapted by Brian Friel), The Lover (Harold Pinter) and Danny and the Deep Blue Sea (John Patrick Shanley.) Have a theme make all the difference in choosing the graphic marketing of the show (which I talked in a blog about designing your promotional postcards to make them pop.) Having a theme helps anchor the marketing, and gives a context to all of our promotions.

It worked so well last year that we’ve created a theme for this year as well. As I mentioned, we’re having a Season Launch Party for Season 4 on November 2, where we’ll be revealing the 5 shows planned for our season. But I thought I’d go ahead and reveal our brand new theme, and then engage you, our readers. on what kinds of thoughts and ideas the theme conjures up. Are you ready…?

The theme for Season 4 of The Seeing Place Theater is…

** FANTASY VS REALITY: The Games Our Minds Play **

What is real? What is imagined? Is the old adage “Perception is reality” true? How responsible are we to fight for the truth when a lie seems much easier to believe? And do we deserve to fight back when we’ve been duped?

These are just some of the questions that are raised in this season of raw, intimate theater.


In the comments section below, answer one of the following questions using only 1-2 sentences...

• Quick: What is your first thought when you hear, “Fantasy Vs Reality?”
• Has there been a time when you thought something was real but it turned out to be fake?
• Have you ever had a bad situation turn out good, like a “blessing in disguise”?

You can post anonymously, or leave your name if you dare. :)

All entries, including those posted below and entries contributed by our company members, will be printed out anonymously and scattered around the room at our Season Launch Party November 2, 2012. Throughout the night, different stories will be used for improvised readings by our amazing actors. The result will be a smorgasbord of dreams, nightmares, realities and fantasies jumbled together and shared amongst our friends, family members and valued patrons.

It’s our way of engaging the public with the art we’re creating, in an invigorating and fun atmosphere. It would be an honored to have your contribution.

So, please leave your thoughts and comments below, and make it anonymous if you’d rather your words stay discreet. And then sign up for our mailing list to make sure that you get your exclusive invite to the party.

Ready, set, go… comment! :)


  1. I agree. Having themes has significantly impacted the excitement around our work in our community. For the first few seasons, I had always thought we were too small of a theater. And it's really difficult to plan for a full season as an Off-Off Broadway company. Rights are hard to come by, and lasting company members are difficult to engage. We've done a great job of compensating for those difficulties, and thus have a very inspired and hardworking team for this year.

    I'll respond with the essay later, but I just wanted to say that my favorite season title ever was at Shakespeare Santa Cruz. Their season consisted of MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR, CORIOLANUS, and THE SEAGULL - and it was called:



    1. LOVE that season theme! What a neat idea. We'll have to steal it... :)

  2. Love it, Brandon! :-)

    Hope to see you all on the 29th!

    1. Hey- I was the one who wrote this post! :)

      Can't wait to see you again, sir.

  3. This seems to boil down to this basic question; to be or not to be? Yes Shakespeare does it again. Fsntasy Vs. Reality? I think that fantasy can be what we hope for, our ideal state. Then, in our reality we find that its not what we fantasize about. Now we are left with the dilemma; To be jaded and re
    solve ourselves to a life of bitterness and anger, or to to not be afraid of fighting for our fantasies, no matter the pain and strife.

    This theme deeply resonates with me. It is why I founded Identity Theater. In my fantasy actors of all shapes, sizes, and abilities play together. In my ideal state, type casting goes out the window and we cast actors who have the right soul for the character instead of the right "look". Unfortunately, our theater is not there yet, but I simply can not and will not go away until I have done everything in my power to make my fantasy a reality.

    1. I love that you connected the word "Fantasy" to your dreams of having a theater company. Very compelling ideas...

  4. • What is your first thought when you hear, “Fantasy Vs Reality?” THE TWILIGHT ZONE
    • Has there been a time when you thought something was real but it turned out to be fake? SOME OF THE PEOPLE I WORKED WITH ON WALL STREET
    • Have you ever been caught in a lie, or caught someone else in a lie? SEE PREVIOUS ANSWER!
    • Have you had a dream of yours come true, and did it live up to your expectations? YES--BECOMING AN ACTOR IN MY SECOND INCARNATION!
    • Have you ever had a bad situation turn out good, like a “blessing in disguise”? BEING DIAGNOSED WITH DIABETES AND ULTIMATELY BECOMING THE NATIONAL CHAIR OF THE AMERICAN DIABETES ASSOCIATION
    • Have you ever had to fight for a truth in your life? YES-GETTING PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND THE SERIOUSNESS OF DIABETES

    1. I love that you answered all of these - what fun!

  5. > FANTASY VS. REALITY..... Meeting people for the first time.... I often have "fallen in love with them"..... and then discovered they were not who I thought they were. Thankfully, this hasn't happened too often to me.
    > Has there been a time when you thought something was real but it turned out to be fake? See response #1.
    >Have you ever been caught in a lie, or caught someone else in a lie? After losing both of our parents, 4 months apart, my brother promised he would stay well for me! 4 years later he passed away from untreated melanoma..... I forgive him.

    1. Love these answers! Somehow, it looks like your comment was cut off. I want to know more! :)

  6. Have you ever had a bad situation turn out good, like a “blessing in disguise”?

    I keep having these situations happen in my life that bring me back to the theater.

    1.) I was forced into my first play because I caught pneumonia in 5th grade and was not in class enough to opt out with the alternative book report.

    2.) I got away from acting for a bit in 9th grade and pummeled into the drug scene, overdosed, and was dragged to a new school - where I first learned how to love the theater from Blair Hambuechen. As a high school drama teacher in a crappy black box with tiny budgets, she had as much passion and drive for art as anyone I've ever met. It was infectious.

    3.) I got out of the theater for a bit again when I was 19, and then September 11th happened - which set a group of events going that brought an old friend, Richard Baird, to my place to drive me up to an audition for TWELFTH NIGHT at a community college in San Diego that was so bad that he and I started a professional Shakespeare company with Nick Kennedy, who we also met on that production.

    4.) Then I lost the faith again after a terrible relationship broke up, and I drove across the country and met the best acting teacher ever, David Gideon - and he has revitalized my sense of joy as an actor.

    5.) Then my serving job kept screwing me around a little over three years ago, barely letting me work, and as I was starving through six months of like $60 a week, I wrote a play and started a theater company, based around it.

    6.) Then I was laid off from that job and spent the next year on unemployment, building that theater company. And here I am with an awesome theater company - all because of the worst situations I've ever tried to live through.

    7.) I was just laid off again (from the serving job that's gotten me through the last year and a half). And terrible as it may be...I'm excited to see what I can create out of it. :O)

    1. I'm definitely excited to see what comes of it. I feel that way about theater too - I was almost out until I jumped in last minute for our production of LOOK BACK IN ANGER. Well, that's not true. I have always pursued musical theater, but very rarely have I committed myself to doing plays...

  7. I've always enjoyed season themes by theatre companies because it gives me as the audience member a thru-line. I feel connected to the company more, especially if I have seen all the shows in a single season. It's kind of like a club, and for those who are in the know it makes the experience that much more interesting and enjoyable. It's a fun little game to play: how does this production fit into the theme? Does it? What could the company have done better or what kind of play could they have picked to make the theme more cohesive?

    I think theme also gives the actors something to hold on to, especially in a true rep. company where actors are playing multiple roles. A single unifying theme helps to focus the story three, four, five weeks into a run - it's something the entire company can always come back to and refocus on.

  8. This is bad but I can remember in my younger days when I would drive from Ithaca to Chicago in the middle of the night non stop seeing what I thought was a mother and a child attempting to cross the highway holding hands. I slowed down almost to a halt on THE HIGHWAY only to find out I was staring at a road sign. Needless to say after this little exhaustion induced hallucination, I quickly found a rest stop to pull over and get some much needed shut eye before continuing on with my journey.

  9. Cool idea, running a theme through the season! I know I personally love those plays with highly developed senses of theme, which leave you puzzling all throughout the shows and for hours afterward. Themes get to the very heart of storytelling, making their audience reflect on the interconnectedness of life's specialties. As an actor in the company this year, it is an incredible opportunity for me to work on several shows that are united through a single theme because, not only do I get to reflect on a particular theme in a show or two, but I get to do it the whole year! And this particular theme of "Fantasy vs. Reality" is one that I find myself reflecting on less and less these days. As I move further into "adult life," I consider fantasy less, when it has been such a defining motivator in my life--indeed, the very thing that has led me to choose my particular career. Studying it this year will be like re-uniting with an old friend. Can't wait!

  10. What is your first thought when you hear, “Fantasy Vs Reality?”: I think of John Oliver's STANDING ON MY KNEES - I think of playing the main character, a woman with schizophrenia - I got into it, maybe too into it, and I started to realize the vastness of the human brain and how easy it could be to get lost in it; I started to feel how someone could maybe "lose their mind".
    Has there been a time when you thought something was real but it turned out to be fake?: The couple of times I though I was in love, before I actually was.

  11. 1. What is your first thought when you hear, “Fantasy Vs Reality?”
    I think of who I think I am vs who I really am. The gap between the two can sometimes be very frightening.

    Has there been a time when you thought something was real but it turned out to be fake?
    The idea that I would never have to grow up.

    Have you ever had a bad situation turn out good, like a “blessing in disguise”?
    Not getting cast in one thing giving way to being cast in even more awesome stuff down the road.


We're so passionate about creating a conversation in our community - thank you for leaving your thoughts!