Devious Theatre & Dario Fo

FROM LAST September to March gone, I spent seven months producing (and acting in) two major productions with The Devious Theatre Company. We embarked on the mission of a Dario Fo season. Not content with doing just one show, we sprang for two and almost went for a third two months ago. Of all of our productions to date, Accidental Death of an Anarchist and Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay! will stand out for a long time to come.

Whereby with previous shows we’ve released clips of various scenes, the Mycrofilms crew have put together a mashup of both productions in around six minutes or so to give you a flavour of what took place in the Set Theatre in Kilkenny in December 2009 and March 2010.

The good news for theatre folk is that we may be back sooner than you thought. After all, it wouldn’t be a summer in Kilkenny without some kind of Devious activity…

Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay! (With Added WiFi)

Can't Pay? Won't Pay!

CAN’T PAY? WON’T PAY! opened last night at Set Theatre in Kilkenny, the latest offering from The Devious Theatre Company. While I can be seen on stage for the 95 minutes or so of performance, I’ve been working as a producer on the show as well for the past few months so there’s a bit of a bonus feeling of excitement there when you see the fruits of your labour (and those around you of course) take to a stage in full technicolour detail.

(By the way, you can win tickets to Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay! here)

As a group this year (and over the last four years) we’ve really tried to grow our online presence, exploring all avenues social. Delighted we are in that people who come to the shows then return their feedback via Twitter, or Facebook. Hell, some people will even email in their thoughts post-show. However the feedback arrives, it’s made all the more possible, accessible, and real time thanks to the embracing of said social tools, tools that have not so much changed how we operate as a theatre company but have certainly shaped how we operate.

On the back of WordCamp, the wifi setup that was created for last weekend’s conference (part of which was held in Set Theatre) is still in place, thus you can access WiFi during the show. No, we wouldn’t want you checking your email or getting lost browsing the web, but with Twitter, Facebook and more at your fingertips (or in your pocket), we’d love to hear the feedback on the night, good or bad, public or private. If you’re sitting in the audience tweeting about the show, why not use the hashtag #cpwp? Feel free to take photos of the performers in action on the stage (just switch the flash off if you don’t mind) and tag them accordingly. Adopting a more open approach last year, we wound up with some fantastic audience photos that were shared via email, Picasa, Facebook and more.

John Morton has been talking about the ingredients of Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay! over on the DeviousTheatre.com blog, and now it has added WiFi, so if you’re coming along, don’t be shy, let us know what you think.

Order tickets online for Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay!

Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay! Artwork

Can't Pay? Won't Pay!

SURROUNDING YOURSELF with fantastic creatives (i.e. incredibly creative people) can be great for your health. It can be great for your sanity. It can inspire all kinds of creative thoughts of your own, bring ideas to life and much more. Of course, if you’re like me, it can leave you with a cap, a white face, a pencil moustache, incredibly large sideburns, a pink check shirt, electric green overalls and outrageous accents.

But in fairness, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

One of those creatives is fellow deviant, Paddy Dunne, who has produced the latest masterpiece. For the last few stage productions for Devious Theatre, myself, Paddy and John (Morton) have worked the angles and cameras coming up with funky setups and promotional imagery for the likes of Stags and Hens, Accidental Death of an Anarchist, and next month’s production of Dario Fo’s Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay! The phrase “I’ll just photoshop it in” took on a life of its own many moons ago, but “photoshop it in” he’s done and he’s created this gem.

Of course, we won’t mention his PPAI Designer of the Year nomination last year but you’ll find reference to it in the programme if you make it along to the show.

Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay! opens in Set Theatre, Kilkenny, on Wednesday March 10th and runs to Sunday March 14th. Tickets, priced €13 are available from our online sales area. The early bird tickets (which were available at €10) have been snapped up but we’ve got plenty to go around. From March we’ll be taking a break from the stage for a few months, directing our theatrical sights into other areas online and off and this latest production brings a close to our Dario Fo season so we urge you to come out, you won’t be disappointed.

For more on the show, check DeviousTheatre.com.

Online Ticket Sales For Theatre Companies

Recorded reading of Can't Pay? Won't Pay!
Recorded cast reading of Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay this past Saturday. That’ll be me pictured on the right of show, playing the role of Giovanni.

THE DEVIOUS theatre company, one of my other / many hats, have announced details of our first major production in 2010, Dario Fo’s Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay! and I’ll be on KCLR96FM around 4:15pm afternoon chatting about the show. You can tune in via KCLR96FM.com (live stream link).

We do a lot of things online as a company, given we have no physical premises as such (bar sharing each others offices for the odd rehearsal / recording session). We blog, we connect, we share videos, tweet, hold our meetings online, use private forums for staff discussion, provide online resources, scripts and schedules for cast and crew, we advertise (and have completed a few useful Facebook ad campaigns), we podcast, we’ve an online CRM setup for managing contacts and suppliers and a whole lot more besides. The next logical step of course was to start selling tickets online.

I had long thought about it for the group, given the wide variety of venues we’ve performed in, the growing and varying audiences we’re attracting show-on-show, and the difference in management for pre-bookings or box office practice per venue that it would be good to introduce something online that we could manage ourselves, cost effectively as well.

Enter Eventbrite, which within ten minutes of using I had our December performance of Accidental Death of an Anarchist up and running, with five nights of tickets to buy for, connected out to our Facebook profile to plug the event there and (add on another five minutes or so) tickets available via DeviousTheatre.com with their embedding service.

So with a new show on the horizon and tickets gone to the printers, we figured we’d do exactly the same for our production of Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay! in March.

There were a lot of plusses for using the service. To start with, it opened the door to a potential new revenue stream for the group. We decided that 2010 would be the year we focus on turning the group towards a business, the first step for us in bringing the company “professional” (join the queue for the debate between amateur and professional theatre) and as such, revenue streams have to be looked at. We spend a lot of time, as a group, online in promoting and documenting our shows and we felt that online ticket sales would give us the ability to reach those that are the more serious web users, those au fait with booking online. We also wanted a way to provide ticket sales to people traveling from out of town, those who couldn’t travel to Kilkenny before the box office closed at six, or those who didn’t want to give credit card details over the phone. On both, accounts, it worked.

That was the test – would it work. I would have considered it a success if one person had bought one ticket online, at least we know it worked. But one turned into three, turned into 17 and more as the weekend theatregoers turned up with their pre-printed tickets (made available by Eventbrite), our door staff crossing off the checklist of those who registered and paid for tickets online (also made available by Eventbrite) and as a plus for us, we had immediate access for funds to use online in advance of the production. As the payments go from Eventbrite to our Paypal account, and we’re avid eBay users for sourcing props for shows over the years, we’ve created a stream of income we didn’t quite have before.

For some of those people attending Accidental Death of an Anarchist, who bought their tickets online, it was their first time to see one of our productions – a further success in my eyes. Would they have come to the show or traveled 30 miles to Kilkenny if they hadn’t been able to buy their tickets online? Maybe, maybe not, but they came. And as a bonus, we’ve decided that those who did purchase tickets online for our first show will receive a nice discount on the online purchases if they want to buy tickets for Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay! online. A token gesture for us, yes, but at the same time we’re hoping it would encourage people to return again and enjoy another night at the theatre.

The tickets for Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay are on sale. You can pick them up online here and here. There is a booking fee of €1.07 per ticket sold online, something that we’re also able to manage ourselves and it’s how Eventbrite (much like the credit card companies or physical theatres) will make their money from box office sales. When Eventbrite deliver funds per show / ticket sold, those funds include the booking fee. Post-event we’re invoiced from Eventbrite to recoup the booking fee, and again, it’s a straight Paypal transaction. Outside of that, there’s no other cost involved. No membership fee, no setup fee, nothing.

So we add online ticket sales to our bow, and we know that it works. I’m still tempted into doing an online theatre production, or live-streaming one of our own productions but we’ll have to talk to the licensing powers that be about that one.

And yes, I’m sure there are other ticket-selling resources available but we’ve tried Eventbrite, made it work, had it generate revenue and open a whole other realm of online promotion for the group so we’re happy to keep going with it.

Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay! runs at the Set Theatre, John Street, Kilkenny from Wednesday March 10th to Sunday March 14th 2010. Tickets available online priced €13 ex booking fee. Keep an eye on DeviousTheatre.com for more details.