The Challenges of Marketing a New Play

Well, here we are. It’s the Friday of a CUH-RAZY week and I’ve assigned everyone else their blog topics and podcasts for the rest of the month, but mine—which was due to myself an hour ago—is still unwritten. Fail. The topic is supposed to be “the challenges of marketing a new play.” Maybe I should change the topic to “the challenges of writing a blog about the challenges of marketing a new play.” OK. Not funny, Houseworth…

But seriously… stay with me as I try to sort this out in real-time… OK, see, the thing is, a play is a living thing. Even in production, a play can morph performance by performance based on the audience that is in the house. But a new play—one that doesn’t have an audience as a partner yet—is constantly evolving.

I think most marketers feel lucky when they are blessed with one of the following:

  1. A starry cast
  2. A well-known popular script
  3. A script from a well-known popular writer

But, a non-starry cast, a new script, a young writer… it’s tough. Re-writes are happening daily. The words evolve, the story evolves, the characters evolve. The only thing to latch onto as marketers is the core of the play. What was the writer’s impulse? Why did they write the play? What LARGER story does he want to tell? That I *think* is key.

My previous professional life was all about the commercial world… sell sell sell… cast stars, it’s the only way to re-coup. But what I love about Woolly and about new plays is that I’m scared. To do my job I have to work harder.

I remember reading House of Gold at Woolly’s kitchen table this past June. When I finished reading it, my first thought was, holy shit (and not in a Huffington Post “Holy Sh*t Theatre” kind of way). I was nervous. Excited. I had read something unlike anything I had read before and I didn’t know how to talk about it. Crap.

So, we got Greg Moss on the phone and asked him that simple question – what was the impulse? What excites you about telling this story in House of Gold. And poof! It was like magic. I AM SO EXCITED TO BE WORKING ON THIS PLAY.

I think, for me, that most of my excitement lies in the unknown. Because we don’t have any “easy marketing things” to work from, we have to be creative. Really creative… really, REALLY, creative and I LOVE going there. There is a great divide in this industry between “marketer” and “artist.” But aren’t the very best marketers also artists…?

Frankly, geekily, I think there is something pretty awesome about being one of the first *administrators* to work on this show. I know, downstairs, that Greg, and Sarah, and David Zinn, and Matt Tierney, and the actors are plowing through the script working on the art of it all, but I think it’s our responsibility up here in the admin land to do the same thing. It feels rigorous, scary. I hope I do the play… Greg, Sarah, all of them… justice. When House of Gold has a life past Woolly, will people look to us and mimic the work we’ve done? I love that idea. One could only hope, I suppose.

It’s not easy, working at this level of unknown. But it IS thrilling, and terrifying, and intimidating, and… well… frankly it’s pretty awesome.

~Alli Houseworth, Communications and New Media Manager

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Filed under Communications and Connectivity, House of Gold

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