As an independent theatre producer one thing you have to get used to is loneliness. Its something that they don’t teach you and it is certainly one that doesn’t get spoken about openly. Working independently takes a resilient person to make the most of it and whilst I may struggle at times to fight the loneliness here are some tips for making the most out of producing indendeantly:
1. Meet Other Producers
Whether you attend events like the Producer’s Gathering, Producer’s Pool in London, Producer’s Network North West or you’re part of the UK Theatre Producer’s Facebook group meeting other producers will help to share the weight of independent producing. Don’t be afraid to say what you’re thinking or how work is; it is these connections that will keep you going through a project.
2. Place of Work
Where you choose to work will have a direct impact on what you do and how you feel. Working from home might seem convient but it may not do much to feeling like you’re doing this alone. Shared offices, hotdesking or just walking to a local cafe will boost your drive for work. I find having desk space with the folk at Theatre Delicatessen gets me out of bed, putting on a shirt and running a business everyday.
3. Breaking Up Your Day
Sitting behind a laptop, whilst portable, can be a real chore, especially if you end up in the same location for hours at a time. Break up the day into managable chunks and ensure that you take time away from your laptop for lunch. During the summer months a quick walk outside will freshen your mind for the afternoon. I also find scheduling a meeting after a few hours work helps to break the day apart.
4. Collaborate and Associate/Assistant
In the arts we’re always banging on about collaborating with each other and as an independent producer we should be thinking no different. Working with other producers on projects or cross collaboration in artforms will keep you on your toes but it will also bring regularity and shared goals. Having an associate or assistant producer will give you someone to work opposite whilst helping them develop their skills in producing. Giving back can be rewarding for everyone involved.
5. Taking Time Off
I’m writing this as much for myself as every other producer. Taking time off – real holiday weeks at a time – will make your work thrive. Taking a holiday helps to focus the mind, energise you and remind you why you love to produce.
6. Get in the Rehearsal Room
It wasn’t until I experienced this myself but making a trip to a rehearsal room will remind you what you’re producing for. Seeing work evolve is important so is being in a creative environment. As a producer you should surround yourself with creativity because a producer’s role is creative. If you don’t have a show in development ask to observe someone else’s rehearsals.
7. Take the Rough with the Smooth
There will be bad days and there will be good days. There will be days when contract writing is making your head hurt and your audience figures are low. Ride that wave, it is what makes producing so exciting, but also acknowledge that this is part of the process. Producing isn’t easy and it shouldn’t be either.
8. Challenge Yourself
Earlier I mentioned cross collaboration but what of working outside your producing comfort zone? If you mainly produce theatre try working with a dance artist. There’s a real need for experience producers across all art forms, don’t see your skills as singular. It will feel uncomfortable but challenge yourself. I produced an interactive, immersive and site specific circus show, Shelter me, earlier this year, my first time working with circus artists. The challenge of this has only made me a better producer.
I realise some of those could easily be applied to other areas of the arts and aren’t always about the act of loneliness of an independent producer. If you have some further tips please don’t hesitate to add them in a comment below.
Photo by Richard Davenport.