Composing the music to CIRCUS SCREAMS was a unicycle ride through the park. Staging my own show was a unicycle ride through a tornado. How did I pull it off? Did I?
Start with the tent poles:
Music - Compose original music. Arrange it to be performed live.
Script - Write one. Collaborators want to know what they’re getting into.
Musicians - Know them, or get out and meet them.
Performers - Know them or find them through friends of friends.
Money - Sell your dryer. You’re paying for this, unless your rich uncle is.
Book a venue early. After you determine how many fans you can get to your show, shop for a venue. Do this six months before the big night. Tip: Ask questions before scheduling a tour. A lot of places are dumps.
Book talent early. Musicians, circus performers, opera singers, pallbearers, all book up. Contact them first and tie them down. Tip: Book your big roles first to lure in talent that finds you questionable.
Contact the press. If you can hire a PR agency, do it. They’ll get you press. If not, write a press release, and spend a night sending cold emails. Tip: Pitch PR a story. They’re too busy to come up with their own.
Advertise like an asshole. Start 9 to 12 weeks before opening night. If you can, find people to help. Tip: Invite everyone to your show, repeatedly.
Hire an opening act. People show up late to everything. Book a thirty minute act to open your show. That way the fashionably late can still make an entrance. Tip: Stick to a start time, or it could cost you.
Tap your talent. If you don’t know how to do something, ask people. Ask your band, your neighbor, the guy holding a saw on his porch. Or go to shows and see how they do it. Tip: Steal ideas.
Push ticket sales. Sell tickets on Goldstar and Groupon. Offer early bird pricing. Do a flash sale. Create a promo code. Tip: Ask the venue to help.
Test props. If you’re also the propmaker, like I was, your erections need to stand up to the art. Test your props. Failing props are like flopping athletes. Nobody likes them. Tip: Only cut corners behind the curtains.
Videotape and record. Not everyone can make it to your show. Set up cameras and mics to record your work. Tip: Hire professionals to make it watchable.
Gift comps. Temp the press, industry people, and loudmouths with comps to your show. Give them no excuse to skip out. Tip: Comp them two so they won't be scared coming alone.
Be the star. It’s your show. Take all the time you need. You paid for all this, now perform. Your part or act should be amazing. Tip: Rehearse, heal, rehearse.
Work the merchandise. Make more money by setting up a merch table and manning it personally after the show. Sell your stuff. Tip: Take credit cards and put out a tip jar.
Make money. The goal is to not lose your shirt. Work within a budget. If you need help, beg, borrow, or steal. If you have to skimp, make payments to the venue, or dodge your rich uncle. Tip: Whatever you do, don’t stiff your talent—moneywise.
Composing the music to CIRCUS SCREAMS was a unicycle ride down the pier. Staging my own show was a unicycle ride through a protest. It takes a flurry of arms, legs and screams. Stage your best show and maybe you could pull it off. Or not.
CIRCUS SCREAMS the highlights video is coming soon.
Buy CIRCUS SCREAMS the album: bit.ly/circusscreams