The Joys of Self-Promotion

16 01 2013

Getting people to come out and see a one-woman show can be difficult.  Here are some guidelines.

1.  Have a really good show.

2.  Beg friends, family, colleagues, and anyone in your circle to pretty please come see it.

3.  Get listed on all of the websites involving things to do.

4.  Hand out lots of cards.

5.  Put up lots of posters.

I’d like to think that #1 has been achieved.  I’ve put a lot of work into this show, got a great director, and it’s a very sincere and genuine piece.  I feel really good about that.  The feedback from audiences at the first two previews has been super positive.

I’ve been doing Step 2 for a while and will keep doing doing it probably until the very last show of the run.  Speaking of the run, please click here to see a list of all of the performances with fabulous opening acts scheduled each night!  Hope you can make it out!

#3 is one of those steps where you just do what you can and hope for the best.  I sent out press releases to pretty much everyone.  However, I’m not listed everywhere yet.  One site coerces you to sign up with an account, go through a lengthy process of filling out a form online (where one can’t always choose an applicable option), then you have to click a box that reads (paraphrasing), “There is no guarantee we will post your event.”  In addition, once you’ve sent out the press release, you can only hope they get the details right when they post it.  Some publications will try to be cute and witty in describing your piece.  So, without having ever seen your show, and instead of simply copying and pasting your description, they’ll just write something themselves.  In my experience, this ends in them having a very inaccurate description of your artistic endeavors.  For example, when I was running my first one-woman show, The Good, the Bad, and the Monkey (a show about dating/relationships/singlehood wherein I did “scenes” with sock monkeys on stage, letting the audience imagine the other half of the dialogue), various publications would routinely describe my show as a puppet show, which of course it wasn’t.  I was using sock monkeys (homemade stuffed animals), not sock puppets.  Sigh.  Fast forward to my current show, 185 Buddhas Walk into a Bar…  This is a written show about my journey as an artist–an actor, an improviser–with all of the notable stories along the way, punctuated by Zen Buddhist philosophy.  Now the publications who haven’t seen my show are describing it as an improvised performance, despite the fact that my description includes the “Written by Amanda Rountree” in it.

Alright, steps 4 and 5 go hand and hand.  You’ve seen these in play at your local coffee shop:  Posters on the windows or on the “community board” in the back by the bathroom and flyers or postcards on the little shelf by the door.  Stacks and stacks for different shows….  Yesterday, I spent a good amount of time pounding the pavement, executing steps 4 and 5.  And it can sometimes be a disappointing part of promotion.  I passed by shops that one week earlier, told me I could put up my not-inexpensive poster in their window, only to see that they’d been apparently taken down.  I was told to leave my poster at other places so that “tomorrow or later, someone will put it up.”  Hopefully.  Sometimes, it can just be sort of funny.  One restaurant worker kept looking at my poster saying, “She’s a pretty lady!” genuinely not noticing that the same lady (sans make-up and wearing winter gear) was standing right in front of him.  I know that he genuinely didn’t know it was me, ’cause when I said, “oh, haha….thank you…” he looked at me really funny–almost offended.  (I’m not sure if he was offended for himself or for the pretty lady on the poster).  But I walked out of there with him at the least, unconvinced that we were the same lady, and at the most, thinking I was a little crazy.  There were also nice moments, when the shop owners or employees were happy to post my promotional materials and wanted to know about the show.  But after all of this, I sometimes ask myself, “Who goes to see a show because they saw a poster for it at the pizza place down the street?”  I don’t know the answer to this question.  Personally, I rarely see shows where I don’t know someone in the cast.  But perhaps that’s simply a product of me being a performer and having tons of friends in shows all of the time.

By and large, the two most important guidelines–the ones that you MUST do to even HAVE a show–are Steps 1 and 2.  Without these, you’ve got nothing.  So those are the ones that I’m focusing on.  Yes, I’m still doing steps 3, 4, and 5.  But I sure am hoping that if I focus on the first one and then on the second one, everything else will take care of itself.  That said, PLEASE come see this show!  It’s really good.  And if you like it, will you please suggest it to others?  Thanks!

185 Buddhas Walk into a Bar
Written and performed by Amanda Rountree, directed by Jen Ellison
Studio Be
3110 N. Sheffield Ave.
$12 in advance, $15 at the door Buy Tickets!
A different opening act each night!  Thursdays in February and March at 8pm

185 Buddhas Walk into a Bar
The art of improvisation creates stories from thin air, making the unseen seen. For Amanda Rountree, this is not just an art form, but a way of life — one that includes unexpected twists and turns — leading, if not to mastery, to enlightenment.  Written and performed by Amanda Rountree, and directed by Jen Ellison, this show follows the artist on her path with all of the funny and touching moments along the way.

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