I have been asked many times over the years what kinds of showcases actors should do. I have been to hundreds—if not thousands—of showcases in the nearly 30 years I have been a manager, and I can count on both hands those I actually enjoyed and benefited from. The rest were quickly forgotten—mainly because they were uninventive, un-stimulating, or downright BORING. If you are thinking of developing or participating in a showcase, make sure it is exciting, unique, and has a great selling point!
Showcases come in many "types"—scenes, monologues, one-acts—and "styles"—improve, acting, musical theatre—but the "type" or "style" is the least important thing to consider when thinking of developing or participating in a showcase. The most important element is the overall way the showcase is packaged, or the "wow factor."
Let me explain. You will draw more flies to the honey if your showcase has an interesting "gimmick." You could present your showcase in a fascinating venue—a park, an old gutted warehouse, an ice cream parlor, a bus, a train, even a theater—as long as the show is of interest. Try hiring a director of note to help add legitimacy and some industry “buzz” around your showcase. How about scenes interspersed with music from a well-known or up-and-coming composer? Or start a play contest by soliciting 10-minute plays from playwrights. Choose six of the best, cast them with great talent, and spread the word. People attending would not only benefit from seeing new talent but also the work of some new playwrights. You could even serve interesting snacks or beverages before or after the performance. How about a fondue party? Or frozen summer blender drinks? Be creative—the list of ideas is endless.
Above all, do not participate in a showcase for the sole reason of getting casting directors and agents to come to advance your career. Of course, you will invite industry folk to come and see it, but it should not be the only reason to participate in it. Your main reasons to do a showcase should be that you like and admire the other people involved; you want to perform in something sooner rather than later; you like the concept; it promises to be a learning experience; and, most importantly, it should be fun!
Putting on a great showcase only takes a group of talented people working together. I hope this article empowers you to collaborate with others and produce your own compelling showcase.
John Essay has been a theatrical manager and producer for nearly 25 years. His company, Essay Management, represents actors, writers and directors in all areas of the entertainment industry. He also created www.TheActorsGuideToEverything.com, a website reflecting the culmination of all that he has learned in the last 25 years as a personal manager.