The New Work Series

The New Work Series

It’s a hard edge to walk between being an artistic director and a producer.
As an artist I recognize how important it is to bring new works to the forefront. As a producer I also acknowledge how hard it is to promote such work.

We now know how hard it is to get your worked looked at, let alone produced if you are a woman. Odd as statistics show us when women’s work is produced it shows stronger at the box office than those of their male counterparts.

At Butterfield 8 we are currently at the start of a group of staged readings of new works, five to be exact. Four of these new works are by women. I’d like to be able to say that it was my intention to do so, but it was the luck of the draw. The works by women were the strongest submissions we received.

As a producer it’s a massive risk to build a run of nothing but staged readings. It’s a big ask for your audience. As the artistic director it thrills me to bring these to the public and give the playwrights a chance to expand their work, to put it up on its feet and to get feedback from the public. How can we grow as a community if we don’t make room for new works, new playwrights? So the question for all of us is how to promote this in a way that will bring people in and get them energized with the idea of getting in on the ground floor, as it were. getting to follow a work from page to stage. Seeing it go from a reading to a full-blown production. If the audience is vested in following how the work progresses, they will be more likely to come and to bring others with them.

The big challenge is getting them in the door in the first place. PR has changed drastically in the last few years with the birth and expansion of social media. Print ads that used to be the bread and butter of the theatre community now are the last spot we turn to. Not only are they cost prohibitive, but you no longer get the same bang for your buck. There are people who still rely on printed materiel for their information, so you face a generation gap. Some people don’t use social media, they don’t like it or they don’t trust it, or it confuses them. Then there is a whole generation that has completely embraced it and practically lives on it.

What to do?

As a small company with out a huge budget for PR it becomes a game of roulette. We are basically doing a trial by error method. So we do as much as we can to promote the work, and we hope that you, the audience, are intrigued enough to come and see for yourself what new theatre looks like.


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