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What to Expect when you're Producing

Our point of contact

As producer, you’re our point of contact for all things about your show. If someone else reaches out to us, we’ll push back to you. If we have questions for you, or need something done, you’re the one we’ll reach out to. You’re free to delegate any task you want to anyone else, but to make our lives easier, we always come to you.

When our Artistic Directors have a question about show quality or notes on the general success of a show, we come to the producer. Our stated goal as a company is to produce the best improv comedy in the bay area, and to that end, we need to have an outlet for addressing concerns about quality. Our strong preference is to have a producer who is divorced from the performance of the show, or even better a director who is both producer and coach, and singularly responsible for the show’s artistic vision.

At present, we do not require this separation of powers in the shows we put up, but at some point in the future it may be the case that we will start to expect this.

Single point of failure

Should a producer step down from a show, Endgames reserves the right to end that show and replace it with something else. The Artistic Direction staff may opt to put someone else at the helm if a person can be found, but there are no guarantees of this.

Shows we like

What makes us like a show? When we pick shows, we are concerned with a strong conceit, uniqueness, and diversity in casting.

A strong conceit is maybe the most important thing. We want a show to have a clear hook for audiences (read more about this in our blog). We’ll never book a show that doesn’t have some obvious theme, structure, or idea driving it. We just want to be sure audiences will be inspired when they read about your show.

Uniqueness is incredibly important, and we spend a lot of time talking about different formats, different structures, and different hooks. A lot of people pitch the same basic ideas time after time, and it starts to bog us down and pigeonhole the company. Take a look at what’s on our calendar, and try to pitch something that feels special, different, and fun.

We support diversity as a company. This means we’re excited about offering stage time to improvisers from different backgrounds, and look to give voice to improvisers of color, LGBTQIA identity, different genders, and abilities. Additionally, this means we don’t want to see the same performers in every show. We want more people to have more opportunities to grow and perform.

How we price our tickets

At Endgames we have a stated goal of keeping comedy affordable and accessible. We want everyone to be able to come see a show, and it pains us every time we go somewhere else and spend 15 or 20 bucks to see an improv show. As Jill Bernard says, we should always remember that there’s something tricky and naughty about doing this. We invite people in, take their money, and then we don’t know what we’re going to do.

All of our shows are $5, with one exception. We only started charging $10 for Your Fucked Up Relationship after it proved itself for more than five years. Maybe down the line when we have shows that are regularly turning away an audience we’ll do it again, or maybe pure economics will cause us to raise prices, but we’re going to keep them cheap as long as we can. We don’t generally negotiate that with producers, so please understand where we’re coming from.

We also never charge anyone to use our stage. Our Artistic Direction team chooses shows based on merit and uniqueness. We provide paid stage managers, tech and door staff, as well as online ticketing, and presence on the Endgames Website, letting performers do what they do best: Perform.

Compensation for performers

At Endgames Improv, we believe in performers. We strive to offer the most stage time for the most people, as well as the best access to teachers and coaches. Our pool of talent, and the size of our community allows us to have access to a great theater like Stage Werx almost every night of the week. Beyond this, our long term goal is to have our own theater, and more than one stage for weekend performances.

We would love to be able to offer compensation for performance time, and as we grow in terms of audience and reach, this may be possible in the future. For now, though, we’re focussed on opportunity for stage time and learning.

The one exception to this is that we do occasionally offer compensation to supplementary performers. This includes professional musicians and special guests from outside the community. Though our primary mission is to stage improvisational and sketch comedy, from time to time shows like these involve outside professionals. We sometimes need to remunerate these individuals in order to expand the diversity of performance styles and performers on our stage. This is always an exception rather than a rule, and will be arranged by permission from Endgames Directors. For insurance purposes, this payment needs to come directly from Endgames Improv.

Marketing your show

One of your responsibilities as producer is to promote your show. Endgames doesn’t take on effort to promote shows for you --- our efforts are always to promote Endgames as a whole and bring more people to the theater in general. We do offer our Endgames Facebook and Twitter up and promote individual shows frequently there, and you can always get something onto our blog or monthly mailing list.

We’re not expecting producers to spend money or invest copious time into marketing a shows, but spending some time posting about your show online, or printing flyers to pass out, or looking for other places to get events listed is a good idea. The main thing is to be responsible for generating word of mouth.

Expectations about audience size

A show with a big audience is obviously important to us. Every person who shows up is one more to spread the word, and one more who may sign up for classes. That said, we know that getting an audience (especially on a weekday) is difficult. We don’t currently think it’s in our interest to end shows because of audience size. There isn’t such a marked difference between one show and the next, so much as a difference dependant on the day of the week.

As long as you’re making a good faith effort to promote shows, and your team is doing so as well, you’re meeting what we expect. If you want a bigger audience, we’ve written extensively about marketing. Our Artistic Directors are also open to discussing what we can do together.

Working with your Stage Manager

Endgames employs Stage Managers to be in charge of the theater at all times. There is always a Stage Manager on duty, whenever shows are going on, and they’re the boss. They keep the theater running smoothly, make sure shows start and end on time, and manage the volunteers. They are also responsible for the tech booth and the front lobby.

You can always contact your Stage Manager with any questions. All contact information is found in this sheet. If you have questions, or need something special they’re the one to reach out to. We have a specific set of guidelines for what you can expect from Stage Managers in terms of tech. If you need something more complicated, you can always bring your own tech operator.

Remember that the Stage Manager makes the call about when shows end, not you or your team. We need to allow at least five minutes before the next show starts, so your set might get called earlier if you’re running over. We ask that you respect their decisions and not take them personally. It’s your job to plan and run your show in such a way that it ends within the allotted time.

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