I kind of had a wild and crazy summer this year. I already had been planning to go back into the breach that is outdoor summer theatre with Bare Theatre’s production of Henry VI. I had somehow walked out of their production of Macbeth the summer before, even doing both the Raleigh and Chapel Hill run, relatively unscathed and yet I was doing it again. Then, I added Women’s Theatre Festival into the mix. My unwavering enthusiasm for hardcore feminist theatre fostered by my years at Meredith College made me do something very stupid: In the months of July and August I would be rehearsing and preparing for 3 separate shows all running within a week of each other:
Henry VI: July 29th- August 7th (give or take dark days)
The Amazing Cunt and Lil’Bitch Take Raleigh!: August 12- 20 (give or take dark days)
The How and the Why: August 25- 28
An undertaking that made my Google Calendar look like this on any given week:
Yeah, don’t be like me kids.
That being said, I had a great support system and was lucky to have so many people in Bare Theatre involved in the festival and knowing what I was prepping for. In addition, I was able to assemble an amazing team of Meredith Undergrads and Alumna to help. I also was lucky enough to have a sister that was as experienced in Management as I am to be my human timeturner. She covered both Amazing Cunt and How and the Why rehearsals when I was supposed to be 2 places at the same time— which was very often. I also met a lot of amazing artists that identified as women or outside the binary that I hope to collaborate with in the future.
While I wouldn’t advise that life to anyone, it was an experience where I learned so much. Here are 10 Lessons I learned:
You can get pretty far with some neon lights and bluetooth speakers.
If you’re going to do your budget on a shoestring and have to throw it together— make sure to justify it artistically through the production. Having my actors physically operate the lights and find meaning in them is the most important thing.
Before you cast, find out who actually wants to be in your show. It might help you in the long run.
Doodle and Google Calendar is life. Never betray them and never lose the links to people’s availability.
Be flexible to change. Infuse that change into the productions you do.
If you’re stage managing— be on top on all of the tech elements. Make sure you’re copied on all of the emails regarding contract and potential tech nightmare/disasters.
Know how to delegate and ask for help. Let your team and your people know what you need so that they can help you. You don’t have to do it on your own.
Act with kindness first. Don’t assume people are being malicious. It’s always better, no matter the situation.
Remember to take time for self care and to not overburden yourself.
Always be learning and finding new ways to innovate. Even if that means failing a little first.
When I think about the fact that in May of this year I didn’t think I would get any full length play produced in North Carolina without first spending thousands at Fringe Festivals all over the country, I’m really proud of all of the amazing work that this festival has facilitated. I not only produced The Amazing Cunt and Lil’Bitch Take [your city]! In Raleigh, but had it produced in Minneapolis. I had a mini taste of the festival with Drusilla is Dead being produced at Sonorous Road’s Open Doors. I met amazing actors and worked with amazing staff for The How and the Why. I even got explore more comedy and a deeper universe of the Henry cycle with Bare Theatre. As I work on Lysistrata at my Alma Mater and prepare for a show about a group of women who work together to foster lasting change, I am so glad that this wild, crazy summer happened for me. I can’t wait for what next year is going to be like.
Katy Koop is a writer, actor and occasional stage manager based in Raleigh, NC. Some of her essays have been featured on sites like Femsplain, Hello Giggles, and Feministing. As a playwright, her work has been performed through Raw Theatrical, Gadfly Theatre, and Women’s Theatre Festival. When she’s not in rehearsal, she can be found asking celebrities for advice on her twitter handle @katykooped. She recently talked about playwriting, being a feminist, and about doing the Women’s Theatre Festival on a recent episode of the Podcast Q2Q.
Photo credit Elizabeth Anderson