Friday, August 1, 2008

A stack of these is yours


A stack of these is yours, originally uploaded by tberrongkc.

The posters and postcards are ready.

If you are a local improviser (and if you read this blog and did not give birth to me, you are) (hi, Mom! I'm fine), you're going to get a big stack of something sometime this week. 

Last year, we seriously fell down on poster distribution (if you want a limited edition collector's print, let me know). This year, we're giving a reasonable number of postcards and posters to every troupe to pass on to their members. 

Whether fliers work is up for debate. I've spent too many Saturday afternoons going into local hangouts to put up fliers and never seen real evidence of results. What does work? Hanging posters where you work. We'll have more than 60 improvisers performing at the festival. If each one hangs a poster at work, and couple of people see it, and those people each bring a date or a couple of friends, we're getting somewhere. 

The other thing up for debate? Whether your troupe should put any effort into promoting a show with other troupes in it. I've been a theater director and a member of big and small troupes, and I get why people are worried: 

  • Why would I share my audience?
  • What if my audience likes someone else's show better?
  • Is there really enough audience to go around?

Sigh. I've had the discussion too many times to want to rehash it (especially at 1am after working on promotion for the last four hours). But here's what happens at the festival: 

  • People who've never seen improv before will come—maybe just to see Jason Sudeikis, or because a friend dragged them—and they'll dig it and want to see more. 
  • KC Improv will come off looking gooooooood. Professional venue, professional shows, great energy. 
  • Everyone leaves with a program with contact info for every troupe in town. (Buy a program ad at a discount if you want to show off a little more.) 
  • Your players will see the "competition"—and either feel great ("Hey! We're better!") or inspired ("Wow! We could kick ass like they do!").
  • Your players will meet the "competition" and like them, and realize they've got a few dozen more drinking buddies. (Except for the Exit 16 kids. They are not allowed.)
When City 3 got the KC Improv Community ball rolling, they brought folks together who had never met—much less built a festival together. Someone brought Bess Wallerstein to a meeting at a bar one night; 30 minutes into it, she had changed the way I thought about producing the festival, and this year, she's gotten more done in her spare time than some people get done in a whole work week. Linda Williams brought Pete Calderone to a meeting at the Filling Station even later in the game, and he quickly took responsibility for wrangling the troupes—and if you've ever tried to get an improviser to commit to something, you have an idea of how tough his job is. 

What I'm saying, in a rambly, incoherent way, is that last year's Showcase and Festival did more than promote the community—it helped create it. Thunderdome has strengthened it by another gazillion degrees, giving people who worked together a chance to play together. There's more cross-pollination in KC improv than there ever has been—and more groups. Four of the groups performing this year were just getting started when last year's fest went up. 

It seems like when we get around each other, we make each other better—or, at the very least, have a whole lot of fun. And that's good for everyone. 

It's kinda cool. 


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