Falstaff

Mariposa

Butterfly

Search This Blog

Loading...

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tour Whore, March 18, 2012

Making the Bouillion Cube
They won’t care how good my show is, if they don’t get the gestalt in 5 seconds or less. Gah!
by Cameryn Moore

Imagine that you’ve just pulled this beautiful roast chicken out of the oven. You labored long and hard over it, and it shows: smells great, looks amazing, your mouth is watering, it’s going to be delicious, you can’t wait to serve it out. And just as you’re sharpening the knife, the guest of honor says, wait, do you think you could make a boullion cube out of that?
That’s what this time of year feels like, when I have to take my show and boil it down to promo copy.
My stuff needs to stand out like a fluorescent yellow life preserver in the flood.

The Fringes need program notes, and it’s not just them. There need to be blurbs for all reasons and seasons: For my web sites, for potential business sponsors, Facebook event listings, oh, and I’ll have to start cranking on press releases soon enough. Everyone wants to know who I am and why they should give a shit. But they don’t really have time to listen. Program books have limited space. Journalists are filing deadlines, they need to know now, now, now, break it down, make it easy. And audience members, psht, they are drowning in it. My stuff needs to stand out like a fluorescent yellow life preserver in the flood.
The bulk of my promo grind goes into the program copy for the first Fringe I’m in; historically, that’s been the Montréal Fringe, coming in at 50 words. I’ve already got program copy from my preview show back in February, when I performed power | play at a kink convention. But I definitely have to go back in and adapt that text, because it was online, no space limitations, and anyway, that’s a different audience, right? The kinksters who go to my previews there are not necessarily theater-goers (although a few of them are, and it is a joy to read their feedback forms). Mostly they’re looking for something to do before the leather-and-latex fashion show, while they’re waiting for their hotel roommates to show up with the cooler of booze and the portable, packable flogging bench. They want sexy, hardcore, so for that program I just have to make sure the right adjectives are in. 
Actually, that’s true for any promo text: whatever the crowd is I’m trying to attract, it has to be written for them. If I’m trying to convince a college to present me, I make sure “educational” is in the pitch letter. Repeatedly. For venues that normally do punk shows and zine fests, I give them the more political, in-your-face buzzwords. For Fringe audiences, I try to accurately get my genre down, because the categories that most Fringe programs offer on the form are narrowing. Drama, comedy, storytelling, sketch, spoken word, dance. What if it’s a drama with funny bits? A storytelling show with spoken word and bursts of dance movement? 
Will it trigger some memory from junior high school and make them fall in love with the person sitting next to them, even if it’s a stranger?

Ugh. And the length of it. Or lack of length. God. It’s a highly restricted diet of words, so I may end up trading a longer, more lyrical line for one pithy critic’s blurb, haggling with myself over every abbreviation and hyphen, trying to invest each word with the maximum possible significance, to best convey what experience the audience is in for and why it’s so important that they come to see my show.
Will my show make them laugh or cry, or both, in some snotty, teary burst of complicated hysteria? Will it make them think, make them squirm in their seats or forget to breathe, make them a little drunk on free-thinking or the free shots of booze I promised? (That’s a hypothetical situation to make a point. I have not, nor will I ever serve free shots of booze at my shows.) Will it trigger some memory from junior high school and make them fall in love with the person sitting next to them, even if it’s a stranger? I may have to include certain things in the blurb, like, legally. Does it work for kids of all ages, or really only for kids of all ages over the age of 18? Is there adult language, partial nudity, a gun shot, a cum shot? Is there power point, a smoke machine, a ukelele chorus? (Someone write that show. Now.)
On tour, everyone wants to know what my plays are about, how many awards I’ve gotten, what the critics say.

Seriously, I sweat over this. I check this shit—with my director, with friends, with my peers in performance—because what I share publicly about a show, especially before the tour starts, really does determine its personality in part, the feel of it, the talking points. And I need this to feel solid. I’ll be standing on this promo platform for the next 6 months, the next year. I’ll come back to the basic blurb again and again, there will be echoes of it in a calendar listing down the road, the synopsis when I’m applying for a festival or a grant, my 30-second elevator pitch. So it’s gotta be good, and stay good, distilling down into ever-more concentrated doses…
On tour, everyone wants to know what my plays are about, how many awards I’ve gotten, what the critics say. In this post, I share my process for creating promotional copy for shows, and I’ll let you know exactly how I feel about it. (44 words, 6 words left. Oh. Shit.)
Reviewers and audiences need my show in a snapshot. This column shares my process for writing promo copy, and how I feel about it: mostly stressed and irritated. (28 words, 34 with word count.)
They won’t care how good my show is, if they don’t get the gestalt in 5 seconds or less. Gah! (20-word flyering hook for this column)
Sex and liberation, in your face! (six-word flyering hook for exit crowds)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated. Please read our guidelines for posting comments.