Q: How do I get agents to see my showcase? What's the best way without being a pest?
A: You should consider several things when you do a showcase. These hints may give you the best chances of getting agents there.
Who are the other people involved in the show or showcase?
Agents will go to see their clients in shows and showcases. Be in a showcase with some actors who have agents already. That will give you a better chance of getting the assistants and perhaps even the agents there.
Be in a show with good actors. It is not inspiring to see you as the best one in a group of bad actors. You are known by the company you keep: Who is the author, who is the director?
New plays from up-and-coming writers will also bring literary agents, and they will very often have legit agents in their offices. So your chances of being seen and/or recommended are doubled.
Scene nights used to be quite popular. Full shows are good as well, and seeing an actor in a complete performance gives us a stronger view of his work. Sometimes I will suggest that my assistant go and see a show she may not know, regardless of whether we know any actors.
Take agents' time into consideration. After a full day of work we do not want to see a show that is more than two hours long. When doing a scene night, keep track of when you go on. If you are in the last scene in the first act, you may be able to tell an agent that he can be out of the theatre by 9 pm. If the show is good he may want to stay for the rest; if it's not, it's clear that you have been considerate of his time.
Also under "when": What time of year are you doing your showcase? I personally feel that the best time to do showcases is in the fall‹September till mid-November is ideal. In the summer, we want to play too. After Thanksgiving we are getting ready for the holidays. In January I am not going to trudge through the snow to go to a showcase. In February through April we have pilot season, summer stock season, and the new University Grad showcases to attend. Then summer comes again‹makes scheduling hard, doesn't it?!
If possible, be involved in choosing the location. See where agents go; learn where the agents that you want to target prefer to go. You can get this information by going to seminars conducted by agents, and by talking to other actors. (Hint: The Lower East Side is not usually the optimum location‹even though some wonderful spaces are there.)
If you are using a more difficult location, make sure you come up with some other "hooks" to get them there. In 19 years, I personally have never gone to a showcase outside of Manhattan. Other agents I know have. It is always hard to predict.
Send notification as soon as you know the dates and related information. You can provide updates closer to the event. We tend to plan our schedules far in advance. But if we plan on coming we will never mind your calling to tell us that the show is not representative of your work, and asking us to please wait for the next time you have work to show us. In fact, we would appreciate it and will pay more attention to you the next time you invite us to a show.
Flyers‹Neat and clear is most important. Make sure that all information is listed: Dates, times, location, address (with cross streets), actors, director, and author. When you send a flyer it is also better to tape it closed rather than to staple it. When you staple it, what usually rips off is some important info we'll need later. Try it and see!
Please do not call to tell us about your showcases or ask if we have received the materials. We just don't have time to take those calls. I have recently heard of a service for hire that calls and invites agents. I personally see no value in having a hired gun call. I would specifically not come if a hired gun agent-caller were to phone on behalf of a show. Folk often misrepresent themselves, saying to my receptionist that they are calling from "Moonstruck Productions...et al": not a good idea. Yes, you may have gotten me on the phone‹but I will not have a pleasant memory of the call.
If you are having several performances and you get reviewed, do another mailing sending the review with your mentions highlighted. I always read those whether I go to the show or not.
Decide this first! Why are you doing the showcase? To work on new material? To join up with a director you have wanted to work with? To spend time with friends? To get an agent? Just because you were asked? Decide why you are going to do the show‹then you will be able to figure out the rest of the variables. Your time is very valuable. Before you commit, make sure it's possible to get the return on your investment that you want. q