At the start of the THEater ACCELERATOR, our team had a solid sense of where we were in the development of our musical, what our next steps should be, and the work that needed to be done to reach our goal. By the end of the two weeks, our ideas about all of these had changed dramatically.
From the very first meeting it was clear that this was not going to be a typical theatre development workshop. Tim, Pamela, Christopher and the Apples and Oranges team assembled an impressive group of theatre tech and business professionals with distinctive and innovative projects all in different stages of development. Since Tim is both a producer-investor and a creative artist, his insights into the process of developing a new work were often innovative and unexpected. He presented us with a plethora of tools and metrics to evaluate the structure of our stories and help focus on their strengths and weaknesses, as well as tools and methods to evaluate the potential of our shows to actually reach an audience.
One of the more revolutionary concepts in the program to us was thinking about how to market to an audience before the show is produced. Knowing more about who your audience is, and knowing the options for presenting the work in various types of venues and media informs the writing and helps with decision making in the creative process. We were challenged to immediately tackle the questions about how we will get an audience to see our shows, rather than the more typical approach of waiting until the show is in production to consider this important aspect of what makes a show successful.
The process of developing and presenting a five-minute pitch to potential investors really helped us to hone in on what works about our show and what needs to be developed and clarified, and to think more critically and clearly about why someone would want to invest their time and money in producing the show. Being able to share our work with fellow theatre artists embarking on the same journey made the process more fun, and we were able to learn so much from seeing the different pitches and approaches and from the group discussions that followed.
All of the mentors gave truly valuable information and candid opinions, and it was such a gift to have direct access to these renown and accomplished theatre professionals and business innovators. They were very generous with their time and attention — open and willing to share their experience, to give feedback specific to our projects, and to answer questions relevant to our current situations.
On a personal note, as a composer and lyricist whose work is often outside the mainstream of musical theater, this was the first development workshop I have been in that not only recognized the diverse ways stories can be told theatrically through music, but actually embraced that diversity. It was truly encouraging and life-changing to be included in a group of creative artists and producers looking toward the future of musical theater and seeing an endless number of possibilities in how it can be created and presented to all kinds of audiences in traditional, alternative and even virtual venues throughout the world.
About the Author
Mark Governor is the composer and lyricist of the rock opera “shAme” and the co-artistic director of Los Angeles Rock Opera Co. Mark is an acclaimed composer for 20 feature films and over 200 television series, specials and documentaries, including “Notes From Underground” and “Santa Fe,” and his collaboration with Iggy Pop on “The Brave,” directed by Johnny Depp. Mark’s songs and compositions have been featured in “The Daily Show,” “Friends,” “Spongebob Squarepants,” “No Reservations,” Academy Award nominated feature “Nebraska” and special editions of “The Hobbit” trilogy. As a songwriter and record producer, he has worked with many artists including Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, Grant Lee Phillips, Concrete Blonde, and Carmen Rizzo. Mark has also received commissions from Modern Dance companies, and was the documentary subject of “Peace By Piece” (Emmy Award 1993).