Guess what! I’m putting on my own show! This will be my first try at events organising and so far the concept for Nerdlesque! has taken off and there are lots of people expressing interest. I have one out of town performer but the rest are Christchurch locals. I’m so excited and I hope I can pull it off. Eep!
It’s been a while since I’ve posted here, but I think I should write about some things I have experience with that might help others.
Sometimes, especially when you’re a newbie performer, you can’t wait to get into the scene and make contacts and professional relationships. You just want to get on the stage and you want to find people who want just what you do, and who want to help you. You’ll be excitable, for sure— but there are certain people you need to stay away from. I can’t for sure tell you who these people are but I can list some warning signs that might let you know when something is up.
Badmouthing other performers
This is not professional. There is a difference between acknowledging someone’s reputation and straight up bitching about them. If you are faced with someone that seems to jump at any chance to talk shit about a fellow performer in the scene— be wary. One day that could be you. You might find this person seems to hold a lot of personal grudges against people for trivial things, or for simple mistakes someone has made. Trust me, this will probably be you one day. Try to stay away from negative people on the scene that don’t want to do anything but shit-talk.
I’ve got to admit, there is a little bit of ego in a lot of performers I’ve met. But for what they’ve accomplished on their own, they get a bit of a free pass. However, I’ve noticed those quick to list off their accomplishments and talents tend to be a little insecure about them, and will get very defensive if challenged. Ego can destroy a career. I have known a person to have such an ego, and a high perception of their career that they have tried to tear down other people trying to make a living doing the same as them. Because they want to be the best and instead if striving for it and getting better at what they do they try to get rid of the competition the childish way— by warning sign number one. The other thing with ego, is that if this person helps you in anyway— you’re going to owe them. If they help you get a gig, then in their mind they have helped “make you”— you belong to them. This isn’t true. Don’t believe this for a second. All they did was find you, when you got on that stage your reputation as a good performer was all up to you. Don’t let them manipulate you this way.
Big ideas, small budget
Does this sound familiar? “I have this great idea for a show, it’ll be huge and will be a great opportunity for us! But I don’t really have any money… can you do the show for cheap?” or sometimes, “…can you do the show for free? Just until we turn a profit.” I have stupidly gone on tour with an organiser that has had no money. You cannot go on tour with no money, it’s just stupid. I know how appealing it is to think you could be in a big show, especially when you’re just starting out. But don’t let people sell you short. In my experience, people who say this never end up turning a profit because they can’t get experienced performers and they can’t afford a good venue, nor good promo. Even if they think you owe them because they “made you” sometimes you just have to say no.
If it seems last minute, it probably is
Ihave seen shows pulled together at the last minute do well. But I’ve mostly seen them crash and burn. You could put all your time and energy into a routine for the show but if the organisation is sloppy, then the show will be too. Beware of organisers who brag about their improv skills— this is something I’ve learnt. I at first thought it was impressive (wow! you can just make up a whole routine on the spot?!) but it’s not… not really. Improv is a skill— pulling a routine out of your ass isn’t. And if someone is constantly doing this, they’re likely to have that attitude about everything else— and everyone else. If someone expects you to come up with a new routine, new costume etc every month because they can supposedly do it then you better be asking for a hell of a lot of money. And if they’re not giving it to you then run. Run for the hills. Don’t get trapped in their disorganization or you’ll become part of their reputation.
It’s never what they say about themselves
If you’re unsure about a person, ASK AROUND. You might feel weird about it, like you’re talking behind their back but maybe just approach a few people in the scene and say, “hey, I don’t know much about this person and they’ve offered me some gigs— what can you tell me about them?” It’s not bitchy, and professionals won’t give you a bitchy reply either. You can’t judge a person from what they say about themselves, because they’re always going to leave out the bad parts. I honestly wish I had asked around before getting into some projects with certain people. Instead I was awe-struck by all the things they told me they’ve done. Over time I realised they were exaggerating/lying and it turns out other people knew that these people were prone to hyperbole.
There is more that I might add later. And if there is anything you’d like to add or an experience you’d like to share, let me know! http://theneonharlequin.tumblr.com/ask
I am so grateful for the opportunity to direct one of the largest scale fire performances in New Zealand. In only 3 short months I have to round up a committee, bring in spinners from around the nation and choreograph a stunning routine that tells a story relative to the experiences people have had in Christchurch since the first earthquake in September. The Temple is huge so the performance has to complement it accordingly.
I’ve found my first committee member. I’ve worked with him before and sometimes it can be hard as he has a personality that likes to take charge and question everything you’re doing even if it’s absolutely fine. That’s okay to a point, when it’s necessary but it can be frustrating when I have to repeat myself. I believe I can do this job with a good committee but I’m going to need everyone to work together and not try to do my job for me.
I’m really excited! We have funding and the man behind it all recently worked on the 2011 Burning Man temple and does so every year for the regional Kiwiburn.
In the temple people can come in, write their experiences and troubles, read other peoples and then watch the temple burn. It’s a highly therapeutic thing, and something I think Christchurch needs after 18 months of earthquakes.
So watch this space! I think this is truly something I can be proud of (:
I love this photo of Sam and I because I’m just in the background, casually trying to balance my hoop on my face.
Some photos from Oamaru, on the Saturday.
Oamaru was amazing! I’m so glad everything worked out in the end. We really didn’t make much money but we got some really amazing exposure and free and full range of two rooms of Victorian and period clothing while we busked!
We definitely have a good idea of what needs to happen when we go back and have people to contact for when we do. I got offered to perform at the Steampunk festival which I was stoked about and then remembered I am booked out that weekend in Blenheim! At least they have my contact details and Heaphy will probably go and perform… I could possibly attempt to get from Blenheim straight to Oamaru the day after the show as it’s a 3 day festival but I’d have to do some pretty good sweet talking…
“Veruca Salt (Harlow Le’strange) transforming from a prudish girl into a hula-hooping extraordinaire has to be seen to be believed.”
Excellent review on critic.co.nz for our Fringe Festival show!
Have just seen this! I was holding my breath the entire time; I’m so happy with this review ^_^